President Joe Biden is to host a first in-person summit of leaders of the so-called “Quad” countries, which have sought to boost co-operation in order to curtail China’s growing influence.

According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Mr Biden, whose country is also a member of the “Quad” group, will be hosting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The summit will be held at the White House in Washington on September 24, Ms Psaki said in a statement on Monday night.

The visits of the three leaders to the US will coincide with the UN General Assembly in New York, which Mr Biden will address on September 21.

At an online meeting of the Quad leaders in March, they pledged to work closely on COVID-19 vaccines and the climate.

They also resolved to “ensure” a free and open Indo-Pacific in the face of challenges from communist China.

“Hosting the leaders of the Quad demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s priority of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” Ms Psaki said.

In March, Mr Biden, who is pushing big infrastructure spending at home, said he had suggested to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that democratic countries should have an infrastructure plan to rival China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, which features projects from East Asia to Europe.

Ms Psaki said the Quad Leaders would “be focused on deepening our ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combating COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

On Tuesday, a Chinese foreign ministry official responded, saying “China believes any regional cooperation framework should go with the trend of the times and be conducive. It should not target any third party.”

Next week’s Quad meeting comes after Mr Biden’s image has taken a battering over the chaotic US pull-out from Afghanistan.

Biden administration officials have said ending the US’ longest war will allow it to divert resources and attention to tackling China-related issues.

RN