President Tony Tan Keng Yam said last night that he is confident the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD), as a neutral platform for countries to discuss security issues, will continue to enhance trust and mutual understanding among countries.
Speaking at a dinner he hosted for delegates of the annual security summit, President Tan said the SLD "holds a special place" in his heart because he was the defence minister when the inaugural meeting was held in 2002.
"The situation back then was very different from today. Many of us in the defence sector therefore felt that the Asia-Pacific region needed a platform where defence leaders could meet to share viewpoints and gain a better understanding of one another's perspectives," he said.
Many countries are still grappling with the same security issues that the first dialogue focused on 15 years ago, he said.
Organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the SLD has grown and established itself as the premier defence and security forum in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
This year, 31 ministers and participants from 35 countries are taking part in the dialogue, which ends today. "I look forward to future SLDs, which will continue to bring countries together for the common goal of maintaining peace and stability in this region," said President Tan.