Modi arrives in Washington, meeting with leaders of the top Quad

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Washington on Thursday night for a three-day official visit to the United States, which will culminate in a face-to-face meeting with the leaders of the Quad countries – India, the Australia, the United States and Japan in the context of an imminent threat from China.

The “Prime Minister was received by TH Brian McKeon, Assistant Secretary of State for Management and Resources on behalf of the United States Government,” said a statement from the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the Indian side, the welcome list included Indian Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Defense Attaché Brigadier Anoop Singhal, Air Commodore Anjan Bhadra and Naval Attaché Commodore Nirbhaya Bapna.

“Exuberant members of the Indian diaspora were also present at Andrews airbase and they warmly greeted the prime minister,” the statement added.

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Modi’s schedule in Washington on Thursday includes a meeting with a select group of CEOs of US companies. Executives from Qualcomm, Adobe, First Solar, General Atomics and Blackstone will attend the meeting, according to the reports.

Besides the meeting with the CEOs, Modi will also have bilateral talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday. It will be the first meeting between the two leaders since Australia, the UK and the US announced their trilateral security partnership known as AUKUS last week. Under the pact, the United States will transfer the technology to Australia to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

The move comes against the backdrop of the Biden administration’s determination to focus on the Indo-Pacific amid the challenges posed by China’s rise and Beijing’s goal of building a naval force to rival that of the United States. China’s rise to power, coupled with growing friction with its neighbors in the South China and East China Seas and the Taiwan Strait, is being watched with caution in the region and beyond. The AUKUS pact, however, angered France, which lost a 2016 deal to build diesel submarines for the Australian Navy.

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Informing reporters of Modi’s visit to the United States on Tuesday, Indian Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the AUKUS deal was irrelevant to the Quad and would not affect the operation of the group. He was responding to a question of whether the new AUKUS alliance would impact or dilute the Quad – which brings together the United States, India, Australia and Japan and which aims to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific in the context of China’s bellicose emergence. .

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“The Quad is a plurilateral grouping. It is a group of countries that have a shared vision of their attributes and values. They also have a common vision of the Indo-Pacific region as a free, open, transparent and inclusive region, ”Shringla told reporters at a press conference.

The Quad has a proactive program like delivering vaccines to countries in the Indo-Pacific region to fight the pandemic, he said.

“On the other hand, AUKUS is a security alliance between three countries. We are not part of this alliance. From our point of view, this is irrelevant for the Quad and it will have no impact on its operation, ”said Shringla.

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