Japan, the United States, Australia and India are seeking to underscore respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine when their leaders meet and issue a joint statement later this month, sources close to the matter said.
The Quad summit, the second in-person meeting of its kind, will take place in Tokyo on May 24 at a time when cohesion among the four major democracies is being tested by Moscow's aggression as India historically has close ties with Russia and stood out by not explicitly condemning its war.
The Quad has so far been establishing itself as a group committed to promoting a free, open, rules-based order "undaunted by coercion" and signaled cooperation among the four countries in the Indo-Pacific, where China is expanding its clout as a rising power.
The envisioned reference to respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, which is certain to be seen as a sign of support for Ukraine, comes as Quad is expanding cooperation on issues, including humanitarian assistance amid the war in Ukraine.
Showing a resolute stand against Russia's war is expected to send a message to China, which has been building up its military, stepping up its territorial claims in the East and South China seas and pressuring Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province to be reunified with mainland China, by force if necessary.
The joint document is also expected to touch on the Quad members' resolve to meet the challenges of the maritime rules-based order in the East and South China seas, as mentioned in previous statements issued by the Quad leaders, according to the sources.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to join Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the meeting. The leader of a party that wins Australia's general election, slated for May 21, is believed to represent Canberra, but it is unknown if they can attend the gathering.
In a virtual Quad meeting in March, which took place after Russia invaded Ukraine, the leaders of the four nations agreed that they oppose any unilateral use of force to change the status quo in their region, according to the Japanese government.
A joint readout released after the talks did not explicitly criticize Russia for the invasion. But it said the members committed to a "free and open Indo-Pacific, in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states is respected, and countries are free from military, economic, and political coercion."
The Biden administration has placed emphasis on the Quad as one of the "new configurations" designed to take on the challenges of the 21st century, along with the Indo-Pacific security partnership formed last year between Australia, Britain and the United States, dubbed AUKUS.
The Quad engagement has moved to the leaders' level under the Biden administration as it seeks to rally U.S. allies and like-minded countries to counter China. The leaders held their first in-person meeting in September in Washington.
While the Ukraine crisis has led to an awareness that Russia is an "acute threat," Biden administration officials have said they will stay focused on the "long-term strategic competition with China" that continues to challenge the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
The Quad has so far been advancing cooperation in such areas as coronavirus vaccines, infrastructure investment and the supply chain for critical technologies and materials, such as semiconductors.© KYODO