U.S. President Joe Biden is meeting Friday with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the White House Oval Office before hosting the first in-person Quad Leaders Summit with Modi and leaders from Japan and Australia.
In addition to Biden and Modi, the Quad, officially named the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, includes Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.
The leaders, who met virtually in March, will discuss a variety of topics including strengthening relations in the face of China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific region during their meeting later Friday.
“The Quad Leaders will be focused on deepening our ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combatting COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific,” White House spokesman Jenn Psaki said in a statement.
Before meeting individually with Biden, Modi told reporters that under Biden’s leadership “the seeds have been sown for the Indo-U.S. relations to expand, and for all democratic countries in the world, this is going to be a transformative period.”
Biden said he predicted back in 2006 that India and the U.S. would be the closest countries in the world. He said the U.S.-India relationship “is destined to be stronger, closer and tighter, and I believe it can benefit the whole world.”
China has been steadily building military outposts in the region and using them to back claims it controls vital sea lanes.
The Washington meeting comes in the wake of a recently announced agreement among the U.S., Britain and Australia to supply Australia with nuclear submarines.
The deal angered France by undercutting a deal it had with Australia to supply it with diesel submarines. France recalled its ambassadors from both the U.S. and Australia in protest.
China condemned the deal, calling it damaging to regional peace.
The Quad meeting also comes amid stronger talk by the U.S. and its allies in support of Taiwan, which China views as a rogue province, and a renewed effort by the European Union to “enhance” its naval presence in the region.
After collapsing in 2008, the Quad was reestablished in 2017 following years of destabilization in the Indo-Pacific region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian recently said the alliance is a reflection of “outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception” that would escalate a regional arms race.