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Leaders From US, Australia, Japan, India to Meet Friday in Washington

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during the virtual summit of the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S., a group known as “the Quad", at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan, March 12, 2021.

Leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia and India are to meet in person Friday in Washington to discuss cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China’s growing power in the region.

Leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad - U.S. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan - met virtually in March, but Friday marks their first face-to-face summit.

“The Quad Leaders will be focused on deepening our ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combatting COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific,” White House spokesman Jenn Psaki said in a statement.

China has been steadily building military outposts in the region and using them to back claims it controls vital sea lanes.

The Washington meeting comes in the wake of a recently announced agreement among the U.S., Britain and Australia to supply Australia with nuclear submarines.

The deal angered France by undercutting a deal it had with Australia to supply it with diesel submarines. France recalled its ambassadors from both the U.S. and Australia in protest.

China condemned the deal, calling it damaging to regional peace.

The Quad meeting also comes amid stronger talk by the U.S. and its allies in support of Taiwan, which China views as a rogue province, and a renewed effort by the European Union to “enhance” its naval presence in the region.