U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the leaders of India, Japan and AustraliA to the White House, in the first in-person summit of the alliance known as 'Quad'.
"I'm honored to welcome Prime Minister Morrison, Prime Minister Modi, Prime Minister Suga to the White House."
"We are four major democracies with a long history of cooperation."
During the two-hour summit, the four leaders discussed a series of issues including vaccine expansion and climate change.
But while China was not mentioned in their public remarks, Beijing was clearly top of mind.
"We believe in a free and open Indo-Pacific."
"A region that we wish to be always free from coercion, where the sovereign rights of all nations are respected."
U.S. officials have sought to play down the security aspect of the Quad alliance.
That's though its members carry out naval exercises together, amid concerns over China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific and attempts to exert pressure on all four countries.
China on Friday denounced the alliance and said it was 'doomed to fail'.
The summit also comes just over a week after the U.S., Australia and Britain announced the AUKUS security pact.
That would provide Canberra with nuclear-powered submarines by its partners.
China however said it would only intensify an arms race in the region.