Australia leads Quad partners meet on sidelines of G7

·3-min read

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has convened a rescheduled Quad leaders' meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan.

Speaking ahead of the meeting in Hiroshima on Saturday, Mr Albanese said the Quad leaders - US President Joe Biden, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi - were an "outcomes-focused grouping" that could "get things done".

"My first act one year ago tomorrow, indeed, was, after being sworn in as Prime Minister, was to fly to Tokyo to represent Australia in Japan at the second Quad leaders' summit," Mr Albanese said.

"One year on, I'm absolutely delighted to be amongst close friends again here in Japan to continue our important work."

Mr Albanese said the Quad partners stood for "an open, stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region - a region where sovereignty is respected, and all countries large and small benefit from a regional balance that keeps the peace".

"Respect for the leadership of regional institutions including ASEAN, the Pacific Island Forum, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association is central to our approach," he said.

Mr Albanese said the group would outline its principles for engagement in the region in a vision statement following the meeting.

"Through the Quad's positive, practical agenda, we are taking action to address shared challenges," he said.

"Together, we are leveraging our collective strengths and offering support to the region which will be enhanced by the outcomes that we hope to agree on tonight."

The Quad members originally had been scheduled to meet in Sydney next week but rescheduled for the sidelines of the G7 to allow Mr Biden to return to Washington on Sunday in hopes of finalising a deal to increase the debt ceiling before the US runs out of cash to pay its bills.

Mr Albanese met with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier on Saturday and held a bilateral meeting with Mr Biden in Hiroshima.

Mr Biden apologised to Mr Albanese for not meeting him in Sydney.

"I deeply appreciate the flexibility of meeting me here at the G7 meeting," he told Mr Albanese at a press conference on Saturday. 

The president said the two nations were launching a new joint initiative to accelerate the transition to clean energy, including building more resilient critical mineral supply chains.

"This is a huge step forward in our fight against the climate crisis and I want to thank you for your strong leadership and your partnership in this challenge," he told Mr Albanese.

Mr Biden said action on climate and clean energy would be another central pillar of the Australia-US alliance.

He said he looked forward to hosting Mr Albanese for a state visit in Washington DC later this year.

Mr Albanese told reporters action on climate change was "the entry fee to credibility in the Indo-Pacific".

He said many of Australia's neighbours understood climate change was an existential threat.

"We understand that it's an important component of our national security," he said.

In a statement, both leaders outlined their newly signed Statement of Intent: Climate, Critical Minerals, and the Clean Energy Transformation.

"The United States supports Australia's actions towards becoming a renewable energy powerhouse globally and in the Indo-Pacific, supplying essential materials and products fundamental to meeting global climate goals," the statement read.

"Similarly, Australia welcomes the United States' actions to transform its domestic energy and industrial base to lead to the establishment of a global clean energy economy, leveraging its technological innovation to global benefit."

Mr Albanese thanked Mr Biden for his support in the US Congress for ensuring Australia becomes a domestic source under the US defence production act, referring in part to Australia acquiring and helping build nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS partnership.