Japan, which has committed itself to non-violence officially since WWII, might turn away from its pacifist stance as Russian, Chinese belligerence mounts tensions across the Pacific region.
The new Australian government includes 13 women ministers, the largest number in the country's history.
Elizabeth Rosenberg, assistant secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, will visit India, officials say, as Washington seeks to keep India's purchases of Russian oil from rising.
A joint statement by the so-called Quad bloc made no mention of China or Russia, but listed a range of activities that Beijing has regularly been accused of in the region and touched upon the Ukraine conflict.
Four Asia-Pacific leaders of the "Quad" grouping vow to stand together for a free and open region at the start of talks, pledging also to work on fighting the climate crisis.
Australia’s incoming prime minister has put climate change at the top of his agenda, as his victory in the country’s federal elections ended a decade of conservative rule.
The deal cuts tariffs on more than 85 percent of Australian exports to India, as the two countries gear up for negotiations on a full trade pact amid hopes that it would be signed by the end of the year.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has brushed aside suggestions that Moscow would wait until after the Beijing Games, as commercial satellite images show fresh Russian military deployments.
Top diplomats of the grouping of Australia, India, Japan and US convene in Melbourne to discuss China, climate crisis, Covid and West's tensions with Russia over Ukraine.
The two Pacific nations have strengthened military ties against an assertive China, strengthening a US-backed political bloc against the Asian giant.
After months of study, Pentagon decides no immediate major changes are needed in global positioning of US forces but wants to counter China in Asia-Pacific region and Russia in Europe.
Relations between Beijing and New Delhi remain strained after the latest round of talks to resolve their border dispute, and unlikely to be mended anytime soon given geopolitical realities in the region.
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