Korean security, regional infrastructure among other issues set to feature at Shangri-La Dialogue

The state of ties between Washington and Pyongyang will likely figure in discussions during the second plenary session on Korean Security at this year's Shangri-La Dialogue.
The state of ties between Washington and Pyongyang will likely figure in discussions during the second plenary session on Korean Security at this year's Shangri-La Dialogue.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - One year ago around this time, Singapore was beginning to prepare for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's visit to the city state to meet United States President Donald Trump, on June 12.

Some headway was made. A second summit took place in Hanoi in February.

But differences cropped up between the two leaders on the timeline and the way forward for Pyongyang's denuclearisation efforts and the lifting of sanctions imposed by Washington on North Korea.

Thereafter, no new date has been set to take these historical discussions further. And the stalemate continues.

At this year's Shangri-La Dialogue starting on Friday (May 31), the state of ties between Washington and Pyongyang will likely figure in discussions during the second plenary session on Korean Security on Saturday.

South Korea's Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his Japanese counterpart Takeshi Iwaya will share their views on this issue, together with the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

The US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will have a discussion on the sidelines with Mr Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs and Mr Kenji Kanasugi, Japan's director-general for Asian and Oceanian Affairs, on how the US, South Korea and Japan can coordinate their efforts to ensure Pyongyang eliminates its nuclear weapons.

 
 
 
 

Several other issues will be taken up during the six plenary sessions at the dialogue.

Besides those to be addressed by the Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan and China's Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, the remaining plenary sessions will focus on Asia's evolving security order, preventing conflicts in contested domains and ensuring a resilient and stable region, with the last to feature Indonesia's Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Several hot-button issues such as cyber security, maritime security and security implications of regional infrastructure development, among others, will be taken up during simultaneous sessions during the dialogue.

Some other leading regional leaders participating in these discussions include Malaysia's Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan and Australia's Secretary of Defence Greg Moriarty.

Bilateral meetings, to be held on the sidelines of the dialogue, will hold their own attention.

Gen Wei and Mr Shanahan are due to meet to discuss issues of concern to both Washington and Beijing.

Efforts were under way to enable a bilateral meeting between representatives of Japan and South Korea to discuss hot-button issues between them, but that has not taken shape.