Washington, D.C. (US): US President Joe Biden will travel to South Korea and Japan next month and attend the Quad summit in Tokyo, during which he will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the White House has said.
Biden's trip to South Korea and Japan has been scheduled from May 20 to 24.
"This trip will advance the Biden-Harris administration's rock-solid commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said here on Wednesday.
Biden will also hold bilateral meetings with South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan.
"The leaders will discuss opportunities to deepen our vital security relationships, enhance economic ties and expand our close cooperation to deliver practical results.
"In Tokyo, President Biden will also meet the leaders of the Quad grouping of Australia, Japan, India and the United States. We look forward to having further details to share about this trip soon," Psaki said.
In November 2017, the US, Australia, India and Japan gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence, amidst China's growing military presence in the strategic region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. Beijing is also involved in a maritime dispute with Japan over the East China Sea.
The Quad leaders, at their first-in-person summit in Washington in September last year hosted by US President Biden, had pledged to ensure a "free and open" Indo-Pacific, which is also "inclusive and resilient", as they noted that the strategically vital region, witnessing China's growing military manoeuvring, is a bedrock of their shared security and prosperity.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), colloquially the Quad (sometimes erroneously written QUAD despite not being an acronym), is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States that is maintained by talks between member countries.
The dialogue was initiated in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the support of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar. The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power, and the Chinese government responded to the Quadrilateral dialogue by issuing formal diplomatic protests to its members, calling it "Asian NATO".
In a joint statement in March 2021, "The Spirit of the Quad," the Quad members described "a shared vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific," and a "rules-based maritime order in the East and South China seas," which the Quad members state are needed to counter Chinese maritime claims.
The Quad pledged to respond to COVID-19, and held a first Quad Plus meeting that included representatives from South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam to work on its response to it.
The four Quad members have played a major role in purposefully redefining the "Asia-Pacific" as the "Indo-Pacific", to deepen trans-regional ties between the Indian and Pacific Ocean areas, and to, in their words, deal more effectively with the rise of China, the Middle East and Africa.
The term "Indo-Pacific" gained traction in the political lexicon and strategic thinking of not only the Quad members, but as of recently also of ASEAN, the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, used mainly with regards to China.
According to the American think tank Center for a New American Security, CNAS, the United States pursued a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in an effort to adapt to an increasingly economically powerful China in the Asia-Pacific, where great power rivalry, massive military investment, social inequality, and contemporary territorial disputes have all made war in Asia "plausible."
According to the CNAS, establishing a series of alliances among nations recognized as democratic by the United States furthers its own interests: "It is precisely because of the rise of Chinese power and the longer term trend towards multipolarity in the international system that values can and should serve as a tool of American statecraft today."
(with inputs from PTI)