Biden begins four-way talks with India, Japan and Australia

President Joe Biden ends his visit to Asia on Tuesday with talks with a quartet of Indo-Pacific leaders, including Australia’s new prime minister and India’s Narendra Modi, with whom differences remain over how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden will meet separately with Australia’s newly sworn Anthony Albanese and Modi after a four-man meeting of the security group known as the Quad. The partnership, which includes the US, Australia, India and Japan, has grown in importance as Biden has sought to adjust US foreign policy to focus more on the region and China’s rise as an economic and security power to counteract.

Atop the Quad leaders’ talks will loom Biden’s blunt statement Monday that the US would intervene militarily if China invaded Taiwan, saying the burden of protecting Taiwan would be “even greater” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ” may be. The White House insists Biden’s unusually forceful comments on Taiwan have not resulted in a change in US policy towards the self-governing island that China claims as its own.

At the start of the Quad meeting, White House officials said the situation in Ukraine would be on the agenda. Biden on Monday was effusive about Japan’s efforts to impose sanctions on Russia and send humanitarian aid to Kyiv.

But the White House was disappointed with India’s response to the invasion.

Biden has asked Modi not to rush Russian oil purchases as the US and other allies seek to squeeze Moscow’s energy revenues. India’s prime minister has not publicly committed to cutting off Russian oil, and Biden has publicly called India “a little shaky” in his response to the invasion.

Unlike other Quad countries and almost every other US ally, India has not imposed sanctions or even condemned Russia, its largest supplier of military equipment. Under pressure from the West, India has condemned the deaths of civilians in Ukraine and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. However, it has also compounded the aftermath of a war that has caused global food shortages by banning wheat exports, at a time when starvation is a growing risk in parts of the world.

Biden and Modi discussed the invasion of Russia during a virtual quad leadership meeting in March, and last month they held a brief video call when Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with their Indian counterparts in Washington.

“So it’s not going to be a new conversation,” said Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser. “It will be a continuation of the conversation they’ve already had about how we see the picture in Ukraine and the impact of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine on a broader range of concerns in the world.”

While Biden and Modi could avoid a public confrontation over how to respond to Russia’s aggression, the issue remains an important one as the US and its allies seek to ramp up pressure on Putin,” said Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“It seems pretty clear that the Biden administration is not looking for trouble with India and that most of these difficult talks are private,” said Green, who was a senior adviser to the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration.

Some modest initiatives should be announced by the Quad leaders, according to a senior administration, including a new effort to make pediatric COVID-19 vaccines available to countries most in need and a program to help nations improve the safety and environmental awareness of their territorial waters Official who foresaw the upcoming announcements on condition of anonymity.

The Quad last year pledged to donate 1.2 billion doses of vaccines worldwide. So far, the group has provided about 257 million doses, the official said.

Biden will also meet with Albanese, who was sworn in Monday and immediately flew to Tokyo for the summit. The leaders spoke by phone after the centre-left Labor Party leader defeated Prime Minister Scott Morrison, ending a nine-year Conservative rule in Australia.

When asked Monday whether the US would take military action if Beijing invaded Taiwan, Biden said, “That’s the commitment we made.” He added that the idea of ​​China taking Taiwan by force “just not appropriate” and likened it to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden prefaced his response by saying that US policy “hasn’t changed at all.”

Yet the US has traditionally avoided making such an explicit security guarantee to Taiwan, with which it no longer has a mutual defense agreement. Instead, it maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” about how far it would be willing to go.

The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which governs US relations with the island, does not require US military intervention if China invades, but makes it American policy to ensure Taiwan has the resources to defend itself and prevent a unilateral status change from Beijing.

Japanese officials also tried to downplay Biden’s comments on Taiwan. Japan’s deputy chief of cabinet Seiji Kihara told reporters that “Japan and the United States have made no change in their policy toward Taiwan.”

The problem is of no small importance to Japan. Around 55,000 US troops are stationed in Japan, most of them in Okinawa, just 100 kilometers west of westernmost Taiwan.


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, and Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed coverage Biden begins four-way talks with India, Japan and Australia

Bobby Allyn

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