China, vaccines top Biden's Quad agenda

U.S. President Joe Biden met virtually with the Quad leaders of Australia, India and Japan on Friday, launching a plan to deliver 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines across Asia by the end of next year.

COVID-19, the climate crisis, and regional security topped Friday's Quad summit agenda, in what's being seen as a meeting meant to counter China's growing influence and vaccination diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific.

In his remarks on Friday Biden vowed to strengthen U.S. ties with its Asian allies.

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

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday the summit leaders also called for freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, and an end to quote "violent repression" in Myanmar.

Australian leader Scott Morrison hailed Friday's summit as "a new dawn in the Indo-Pacific," while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the Quad "an important pillar of stability" in the region.

And Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the group would make visible contributions to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

The Quad summit comes ahead of a high-level U.S.-China meeting next week in person in Alaska, the first between the world's two largest economies under the Biden administration.