Patrick Shanahan and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe hold 'constructive' talks

US Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue yesterday.
US Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan met for the first time yesterday, in a highly anticipated meeting that both sides described as "constructive".

Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Buccino, a spokesman for the US Pentagon, said Mr Shanahan found their 20-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue to be "constructive and productive".

"The two leaders discussed ways to build military-to-military relations that reduce the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation between our nations," Lt-Col Buccino was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

He added that Mr Shanahan discussed how the two militaries could better cooperate to enforce North Korea sanctions. "Secretary Shanahan hopes to build on this evening's discussion with future engagements," Lt-Col Buccino said.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, the Chinese Defence Ministry's spokesman, was quoted as saying in a China Daily report that the talk was "friendly and constructive" despite its brevity.

He said the two officials exchanged their opinions on the China-US military relationship, the Korean Peninsula and other issues of mutual concern. On the Korean Peninsula, he said both sides agreed to facilitate the denuclearisation of the peninsula and maintain peace and security in the region.

Both sides also expressed their desire for further exchange and dialogue, and will keep in contact via military diplomatic channels.

 
 

"Both sides have reached a consensus that maintaining a stable Sino-US military relation is very important," said the spokesman.

In a separate meeting with his Asean counterparts, Mr Shanahan stressed that the US commitment to South-east Asia remains strong.

Mr Shanahan spoke about Washington's role and strategy in maintaining an open and inclusive regional security architecture.

He said the US will stay engaged in the Asia-Pacific and maintain its strong role in the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus, said Singapore's Ministry of Defence, which facilitated the informal gathering.

It added that the Asean defence ministers welcomed the US commitment to the region.

Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen expressed his strong support for deepening Asean's cooperation with the US, and stressed Washington's key role in addressing the region's security challenges.

Speaking about the threat posed by terrorists, Dr Ng expressed the hope that the US will continue to support regional counter-terrorism efforts.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2019, with the headline 'Shanahan and Chinese Defence Minister hold 'constructive' talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe