Shangri-La Dialogue: Build on trust for peace, says Vietnam PM

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has called for greater strategic trust in the Asia-Pacific, arguing that simmering tension and the territorial disputes of recent years threatened the region's propsperity.

"We all understand that if this region falls into instability and especially, armed conflicts, in general there will be neither winner nor loser,'' Mr Dung said in his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue here on Friday. "Rather, all will lose.''

The annual security conference is being held at a time of heightened tensions in the region over maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas, North Korea's nuclear ambition, as well as growing friction between neighbours like China and Japan.

China's increasing assertiveness in the region has also been a concern for many countries, an issue which Mr Dung alluded to indirectly.

He told the gathering of top defence officials and security experts: "Somewhere in the region, there have emerged preferences for unilateral might, groundless claims, and actions that run counter to international law and stem from imposition and power politics.''

Mr Dung pointed to Asean as an example of an "honest broker" that could bring different players together and enhance mutual trust.

To reinforce regional trust, he said countries - big or small - have to abide by international law, be aware of their responsibilities and strengthen formal groupings or networks that can lead to better cooperation.

The issue of trust will figure prominently in the discussions at the annual three-day Shangri-La Dialogue.

Launched in 2002, the forum brings together defence security officials and analysts from Asia-Pacific countries to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Saturday's session of the Shangri-La Dialogue commences with an address by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who will talk about Washington's approach to regional security.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith figure among other speakers addressing the security forum on Saturday.