In a telephone call, US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to improve Indo-Pacific security through the Quad grouping of countries, which is seen as a way of pushing back against the increasing assertiveness of China in the region.
India, the United States, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad, an informal group promoted by Washington to work as a possible bulwark against China’s growing Indo-Pacific diplomatic, trade and military intervention, diplomats say.
In his first call since assuming office last month, Biden spoke to Modi on Monday night and noted that India-U.S. relations were kept together by a common commitment to democratic principles.
The White House reported in a statement that the leaders agreed to maintain close cooperation to foster a free and open Indo-Pacific, including support for freedom of travel, territorial integrity, and stronger regional architecture across the Quad.
As an effort to curb its growth, China has denounced the Quad and urged the United States to drop its’ Cold War mindset.’
Last year, in the Bay of Bengal, the four countries conducted joint naval drills after New Delhi abandoned its reluctance for fear of antagonising Beijing.
The Indian Foreign Ministry said in its readout of the call, Modi told Biden he would work to increase the strategic relationship between the two countries.
India has been engaged in a military standoff with China over its contested mountainous frontier since April, and after soldiers were killed in a battle there, public sentiment has hardened against Beijing.
Over the weekend, Japan’s Sankei newspaper announced that the presidents of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia are preparing to host a summit, further strengthening the relations between the four strong democracies.
Biden and Modi have vowed to work together to defeat Covid-19, to revive their climate change alliance, and to protect democratic institutions and values around the world, particularly in Myanmar, where last week the military seized power.