New Delhi, March 14:

A day after they created history by holding the first-ever summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue — also called the Quad — leaders of the four member countries wrote a joint Op-Ed Saturday offering their partnership as a “spark of hope to light the path ahead” in the darkness brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Japan PM Yoshihide Suga, Indian PM Narendra Modi and the USA’s President Joe Biden met virtually Friday for the first time at summit level for the fledgling group. They have said they plan to meet in person later in the year.

The leaders had launched launch a ‘Vaccine Initiative’ under which India would produce up to 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by 2022, financed by the US and Japan, for last-mile distribution by Australia in the South-East Asian nations of the Indo-Pacific

“Over the course of these past months, each of us has grieved the suffering that our people and the world have endured. But in this dark hour, our partnership offers a spark of hope to light the path ahead,” the leaders wrote in the joint Op-Ed published in the Washington Post.

“We summon from tragedy the strength and resilience to unify and overcome. And we recommit ourselves, once again, to an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, secure and prosperous,” they added.

The article listed the announcements made on Friday, and much of what appeared in the joint statement and the fact sheet that were released after the summit. It also recalled the history of the grouping from being founded in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami and being turned into a dialogue in 2007 to being reborn in 2017.

The leaders described the Quad as a “flexible group of like-minded partners dedicated to advancing a common vision and to ensuring peace and prosperity”. And the member countries, the leaders added, were “a group of democratic nations dedicated to delivering results through practical cooperation”.

Since the 2004 Tsunami, the world has come to face other challenges such as climate change, which has grown more perilous; new technologies, which have “revolutionized our daily lives”, geopolitics which has become ever more complex, and a pandemic that has devastated the world”, they wrote, adding, “Against this backdrop, we are recommitting to a shared vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, resilient and inclusive.”

The leaders also wrote about the Quad Vaccine Experts Group, which they had announced Friday to support cooperation in the long term. They also reiterated their commitment to cooperating as a group to combat climate change and deal with emerging technologies, which will be led by the Quad Climate Working Group and the Quad Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group.

But they will not be an insular group and will work with other countries and groups. “We welcome and will seek opportunities to work with all of those who share in those goals,” they wrote. Other countries and groups of countries have expressed the desire to work with the Quad, which was discussed at the summit but decision were taken, officials said.