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Quad summit: Biden talks COVID-19 with leaders of Japan, India, Australia

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Quad summit: Biden talks COVID-19 with leaders of Japan, India, Australia
President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet virtually on Friday with other leaders of the "Quad" -- India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

March 12 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden met virtually on Friday with the leaders of Australia, Japan and India for a quadrilateral summit promoting independence and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The leaders at the summit, collectively known as the "Quad," discussed various issues that included fighting the coronavirus pandemic, economic prosperity and climate change.

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"A free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to each of our futures," Biden said. "The United States is committed to working with you, our partners, and all our allies in the region, to achieve stability."

Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were also present in the State Dining Room at the White House for Friday's summit.

Also included in the meeting was Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Narendra Modi.

The White House said the summit would examine financing agreements intended to increase production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in India, where more than 150,000 people have so far died of the disease.

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Morrison called Friday's summit "incredibly important" and said the meeting reflected a "whole new level of cooperation."

Although China was not part of the summit's agenda, some observers see the event as an opportunity for the four countries to unite against rising Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

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