Quad leaders to attend in-person summit on Friday

Leaders of Japan, the United States, Australia and India are set to meet at the White House on Friday for the first in-person summit of the Quad framework.

A senior US government official said on Thursday that the challenges of the 21st century are focused in the Indo-Pacific region.

The official suggested the Quad would serve as an important forum to deepen cooperation among countries that share common values.

The remarks are seemingly aimed at China, whose maritime activities and willingness to use economic coercion are causing concern.

The US official also stressed that the Quad is not a military alliance, but rather a group of democratic nations seeking a free and open Indo-Pacific. The comments appear to be mindful of concerns among some Asian countries over an escalating confrontation with China.

The official added that the Quad is a forum to discuss a wide range of issues, including the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.

The four countries are not necessarily on the same page in their approaches to Beijing. India is wary of provoking China -- its biggest trading partner and a country with which it shares a border.

The United States launched a new security framework called AUKUS with Britain and Australia this month. Washington apparently hopes to counter China through multifaceted partnerships with friends and allies.