FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE: Well, colleagues, I can’t begin to say what a great pleasure it is to welcome you and your teams to Melbourne and to Australia. Let me begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet here in Melbourne today, the Wurundjeri people, and pay my respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.
I can’t say how delighted I am to welcome Minister Jaishankar, Minister Hayashi, and Secretary Blinken to Melbourne for the next stage in these very important and collaborative Quad effort.
The Quad, as we know it and as we practice in everything that we do, is a partnership committed to openness, to transparency, and to practical cooperation to support regional recovery in the face of COVID-19, and also regional security. It’s about what four great democracies can bring to support the priorities of Indo-Pacific partners.
For Australia, India, Japan, and the United States are three of our closest partners. In response to strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific, we’re working together to both amplify and coordinate responses to the most pressing issues of concern to nations across our region, focused on their needs, their priorities. Our objective is to give our region strategic choices and to build the resilience of all states.
Colleagues, we find ourselves entering the third year of COVID-19, and in that context we’ll increase effort to support regional countries to save lives and livelihoods. Collectively we’ve delivered over 500 million vaccine doses as part of our pledge to donate more than 1.3 billion vaccines doses globally. But our assistance goes beyond delivering doses. We’re helping to get doses safely into arms. We’re on track to support the production of an additional 1 billion vaccine doses in India.
Today we have a packed agenda. We’re going to discuss how to deepen cooperation on other challenges such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security, disinformation, cyber, counterterrorism, and of course, climate change.
We as a Quad will continue to champion ASEAN centrality, including by supporting the practical implementation of ASEAN’s outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
I think our purpose is clear. It’s to act to support an open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific region, a region where sovereign states can, as I said, exercise their own strategic choices free from coercion so that their people are able to achieve prosperity.
So welcome. I look forward to our discussions, and I am delighted to hand over now to my very good friend, Dr. Jaishankar.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Thank you, Marise, dear colleagues, and our teams. It’s a great pleasure to visit Australia for the fourth Quad foreign ministers meeting, and I am also very appreciative of the fact this is an opportunity to – for us to do our bilateral meetings as well. My sincere appreciation, Marise, to the Government of Australia for hosting us in this lovely city of Melbourne – it’s my first time here – for the warmth of your hospitality.
Now since our last interaction in February of 2021, the geopolitical and geoeconomic global scenario has become more complex. As leading democracies, we pursue our shared vision of upholding a rules-based international order free from coercion, one based on respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, the rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas, and peaceful resolution of disputes.
Our engagement under the Quad framework has been very useful. It has acquired a salience and a momentum with the two leaders summits last year. We have adopted an ambitious and constructive agenda which addresses many of the significant contemporary challenges of our times, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. And this was very evident in the positive vision of our leaders at the summit and the aspirations that they articulated at that time.
As the pandemic continues to impact us, we have undertaken collective efforts to address global health security. The Quad vaccine initiative and our collective vaccine delivery to which – which she referred to, these have been very crucial in the Indo-Pacific community for countries to meet these challenges. We are taking forward initiatives and efforts aimed at resilient supply chains, at trusted critical technologies, climate action, educational (inaudible). There is ample scope to deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and to work together to address global issues such as terrorism, cyber security, maritime security, and disinformation.
India continues to pursue an agile and multidimensional strategy towards the Indo-Pacific through bilateral frameworks but also cooperation with regional organizations such as ASEAN, whose centrality to the Indo-Pacific we recognize. It is heartening to see the enhanced focus on the Indo-Pacific by countries outside the region. I look forward to our discussions today and once again thank you, Marise, for this opportunity (inaudible).
FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE: Thank you very much, J. And we’ll turn to Minister Hayashi.
FOREIGN MINISTER HAYASHI: Thank you very much, and let me make my comments in Japanese, so please, if you don’t understand me.
FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE: Thank you very much. Very much appreciated, and it is wonderful to see you here. Secretary Blinken?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Marise, thank you so much, and thank you for bringing us together in this wonderful city that I’ve had a chance to reacquaint myself with over the last 24 hours. It’s wonderful to be with my close colleagues. And all I can say, having listened to the three of you, is that I find myself in violent agreement with everything that’s been said. (Laughter.)
We’re aligned in our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific and in our commitment to realizing that vision today. Since our four democracies set out a year ago to really revitalize the Quad, we focused on delivering results for people in our countries, but also across the region. And I think we can justly point to real achievements just in that short period of time. Today’s meeting, I think, is about building on that progress, and let me just touch quickly on a few areas where I hope we’ll bring focus.
One is ending the COVID-19 pandemic together. We are making progress toward our goal of producing at least 1 billion doses of safe, effective vaccines by the end of 2022, in addition to committing collectively to donating more than 1.2 billion vaccine doses. Today we’ll talk about additional steps that we can take to ensure that the pandemic recovery is equitable between and within countries, including in vaccine distribution, as well as looking at what we can do to build stronger global public health security systems.
We’ll also talk about ways to deepen our maritime cooperation – port security, to aligning security (inaudible) partners, which is critical to regional stability and to supply chains alike. And we’ll continue to work together to try to bolster the international rules-based order that we’ve all talked about and which has underwrit decades of security and growing prosperity for this entire region. That includes championing the right of all countries to choose their own path, free from coercion, and the right to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected, whether that’s here in the Indo-Pacific, in Europe, or anywhere else in the world.
Russia’s ongoing threat to Ukraine, and the support some countries have expressed for Moscow’s dangerous actions, is just the latest example of how these rules are being challenged, and it underscores why we have to stand together to defend them. We’ll also explore new areas where we can bring our complementary strengths to bear because the challenges we face are too great to be solved by any one of our countries acting alone. We’ve all come with ideas for how we can do that, including my own team’s plans to foster greater collaboration among leading experts and innovators from outside the government, where our countries have a deep, deep bench to call on.
So there’s a lot to be said, I think a lot that will be said in the next few hours. And Marise, again, thank you for bringing us together, and thank you for, I think, the good conversation we’re about to have.
FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE: Thanks, Tony. Thanks, everyone.