WASHINGTON, March 9 (CNA) - US President Joe Biden will hold first-ever joint talks on Friday (Mar 12) with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan, boosting an emerging four-way alliance often cast as a bulwark against China.
It will be one of the first summits, albeit in virtual format, for Biden, who has vowed to revive US alliances in the wake of the disarray of Donald Trump's administration.
"That President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance that we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.
Amid rising tensions with China, it will mark the first meeting at the leaders' level of the so-called "Quad".
Both Psaki and India, which earlier announced the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that the talks would take up climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic - two key priorities for Biden.
"The leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region," the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The talks, also involving Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will touch as well on promoting maritime security and "ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines" to fight COVID-19 in Asia, the Indian statement said.