Conflicts & War

Biden: Ukraine war ‘heightens importance’ of free Indo-Pacific

(Update 1: changes headline, lede, updates and rewrites throughout)

Tokyo, May 24 (EFE).- United States President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heightened the importance of maintaining a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region.

“We’re navigating a dark hour in our shared history,” Biden told the leaders of India, Australia and Japan, which together with the US comprise the Quad strategic alliance.

Biden focused his opening remarks during the alliance’s second in-person meeting, out of a total of four, on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He stressed that the defense of a “free, open, connected, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific” took on more meaning in the current context.

“This is more than just a European issue. It’s a global issue,” he said in reference to the war in Ukraine.

“Russia’s assault on Ukraine only heightens the importance of those goals – the fundamental principles of the international order,” he added.

Biden also said that his country’s policy towards Taiwan – governed autonomously since 1949 but considered a rebel province by China, which has not ruled out the use of force to achieve reunification – remained unchanged.

“The policy has not changed at all. I stated that when I made my statement yesterday,” Biden said when asked Tuesday by reporters on the sidelines of the summit if the US was abandoning its position of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan.

On Monday, Biden had warned that the US military would intervene if China tried to annex Taiwan by force.

The US president, who is in the final stretch of a three-day visit to Japan as part of his first Asian tour, made these remarks during a Quad meeting with the Japanese, Indian and Australian prime ministers, Fumio Kishida, Narendra Modi and Anthony Albanese, respectively.

Meanwhile, Kishida said that recent events had shown the importance of international cooperation in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

“Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is a direct challenge to the principles of the United Nations. We must not let the same situation happen in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

He also called on his counterparts to show a firm commitment on this and other issues, including climate change, maritime safety and technology.

Albanese, who made his diplomatic debut at the summit after winning the general election over the weekend, reiterated Australia’s commitment to the alliance and their joint projects and goals.

“The new Australian government’s priorities align with the Quad agenda – taking action on climate change, and building a stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific region through better economic security, better cybersecurity, better energy security and better environmental and health security,” Albanese said.

Modi, who congratulated Albanese on his electoral win, described the group as “a force for good” and praised the role of the Quad in ensuring “peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific.” EFE


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