Shangri-La Dialogue: Korean security, stability in Asia and maritime safety up for discussion

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

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 US President Donald Trump on June 12.

Some headway was made in Singapore. 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 today, the state of ties between Washington and Pyongyang will likely figure in discussions during the second plenary session on Korean Security tomorrow.

South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his Japanese counterpart Takeshi Iwaya will share their views on this issue, together with 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 Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chinese 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 featuring Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Singapore 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.

Other leading regional leaders participating in these discussions include Malaysian Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan and Australian Secretary of Defence Greg Moriarty.

 
 

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

General 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2019, with the headline 'Korean security, stability in Asia and maritime safety up for discussion'. Print Edition | Subscribe