As countries grow in military might and nationalism rears its head, major powers and smaller players in the Asia-Pacific must set aside differences and steer the region towards stability and prosperity, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
Nations must build mutual trust, engage each other positively and cooperate in practical matters, he added on Monday in a speech outlining three principles that will improve collaboration among countries.
Dr Ng was speaking to about 60 security and defence officials and academics at the second Fullerton Forum: The Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting. The three-day event, organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, aims to lay the groundwork for top officials when they attend the Shangri-La Dialogue here in June.
He cited recent altercations between China and Japan where "tensions escalated to an all-time high", noting the need for common platforms like the Sherpa Meeting and the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting to improve positive engagement between countries.