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Biden to Host Indo-Pacific Leaders     09/24 06:28

   President Joe Biden on Friday is set to host the first in-person gathering 
of leaders of an Indo-Pacific alliance known as "the Quad" as he wraps up a 
difficult week of diplomacy after facing no shortage of criticism from allies 
and adversaries.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden on Friday is set to host the first 
in-person gathering of leaders of an Indo-Pacific alliance known as "the Quad" 
as he wraps up a difficult week of diplomacy after facing no shortage of 
criticism from allies and adversaries.

   The White House meeting with leaders from India, Japan and Australia gives 
Biden a chance to put the spotlight on a chief foreign policy goal: greater 
attention to the Pacific in light of what the United States sees as China's 
coercive economic practices and unsettling military maneuvering in the region.

   The leaders are expected to announce a coronavirus vaccine initiative, plans 
to bolster semiconductor supply chains and a program to bring graduate and 
doctoral students in STEM fields to U.S. universities.

   Before the summit, the Japanese and Indian governments welcomed a recent 
announcement that the U.S., as part of a new alliance with Britain and 
Australia, would equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

   That will allow Australia to conduct longer patrols and give it an edge on 
the Chinese navy. But the announcement infuriated France, which accused the 
Biden administration of stabbing it in the back by squelching its own $66 
billion deal to provide diesel-powered submarines.

   Tensions between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron eased after the 
two leaders spoke Wednesday and agreed to take steps to coordinate more closely 
in the Indo-Pacific.

   Michael Green, who served as senior director for Asia at the National 
Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, said Japan and India 
welcome the United States-United Kingdom-Australian alliance "because it will 
really for the next 50 years reset the trajectories in naval power in the 
Pacific and from the perspective of those countries stabilize things as China 
massively builds up its naval forces."

   But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian called it a reflection 
of "outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical 
perception" that would intensify a regional arms race.

   Beijing has also sought to push the notion that creation of the alliance 
indicates the U.S. will favor Australia in the Quad at the expense of Japan and 
India, said Bonny Lin, senior fellow for Asian security at the Center for 
Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

   China also has tried to undercut the Quad as out of step with other nations 
in Southeast Asia and portrayed members of the Quad as "U.S. pawns," Lin said.

   The White House meeting is playing out as China continues efforts to make a 
show of force in the region.

   On Thursday, China sent 24 fighter jets toward Taiwan after Taiwan announced 
its intention to join a Pacific trade group, the Comprehensive and Progressive 
Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. China has also applied for membership.

   During his busy week of diplomacy, Biden addressed the U.N. General Assembly 
and hosted a virtual global summit on COVID-19.

   Biden and leaders of other wealthy nations faced criticism about the slow 
pace of global vaccinations and the inequity of access to shots between 
residents of wealthier and poorer nations. The pushback from leaders of low- 
and moderate-income countries came even as Biden announced plans for the U.S. 
to double to 1 billion doses its purchase of Pfizer vaccine to share with the 
world.

   In addition to the Quad meeting, Biden is scheduled to meet separately with 
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, 
who is soon to step down from his post.

   First lady Jill Biden, who spent time with Suga when she visited Japan for 
the Summer Olympic, is expected to join for part of the meeting.

   Modi plans to bring up Afghanistan, according to a person familiar with 
Modi's agenda who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke 
on condition of anonymity.

   Modi is expected to raise objections to the Taliban's effort to get 
recognition at the United Nations. The Indian government also has concerns 
about the influence it believes Pakistan's intelligence service exerted in how 
factions of the Taliban divvied up government offices in Kabul.

   When the Taliban previously controlled Afghanistan, the group supported 
militants in Kashmir, a long disputed territory at the center of wars and 
skirmishes between India and Pakistan. The Haqqani network was behind two 
suicide bombings of India's embassy in 2008 and 2009. Members of the network, 
which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization, have been given top 
positions in the Taliban government.

   Suga is expected to discuss China, North Korea, Afghanistan, the COVID-19 
response and climate change, according to a foreign ministry official who was 
not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

   North Korea last week said it successfully launched ballistic missiles from 
a train for the first time, striking a target in the sea some 800 kilometers 
(500 miles) away.

   That test came after the North this month said it tested new cruise 
missiles, which it intends to make nuclear-capable, that can strike targets 
1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away, a distance putting all of Japan and U.S. 
military installations there within reach.

 
 
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