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Shangri-La Dialogue 2018: What to look forward to

Security in the Asia-Pacific, or Indo-Pacific region, and the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue are expected to top the agenda at this year's IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore starting on Friday.

The website of the organizer, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), reveals that over three days, participants will discuss challenges and cooperation opportunities in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region, and the efforts to further decrease tensions on the peninsula.

Key speeches and issues

Lieutenant General He Lei and Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo from China are scheduled to speak in sessions named "Strategic Implications of Military Capability Development in the Asia-Pacific" and "Competition and Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region" respectively.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis will deliver a speech at the first plenary session themed "U.S. Leadership and the Challenges of Indo-Pacific Security."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will give the keynote speech at the opening session.

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, senior fellow for South Asia at IISS, writes that Modi's speech will likely lay out his vision for India’s relations with the U.S., China, ASEAN and the Indian Ocean/Indo-Pacific.

This year, the "De-escalation of the North Korean (DPRK) Crisis" has also been highlighted as a timely topic with the world witnessing the unprecedented rapprochement between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea, and the preparation for the historic Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore.

Also likely to be up for discussion are counter-terrorism, new technologies and the future of conflict, and the South China Sea.

Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China approved the framework of a code of conduct regarding the South China Sea last August. The document is expected to help both sides move forward in negotiating an effective code.

What is the forum about and what does it do?

First launched in 2002, the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is a multilateral dialogue mechanism focusing mainly on defense and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Every year between May and June in Singapore, the forum gathers military and defense professionals, including ministers and delegates from more than 50 countries. The participants have used this platform to exchange concerns and advice on enhancing regional stability and collaboration.

It also serves as an occasion where security officials from different countries hold informal meetings on the sidelines, increasing communication and understanding.

According to the IISS website, important issues that have been discussed include maritime security in the Malacca Strait, the implications of regional states’ submarine capabilities, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, humanitarian and disaster relief, and the idea of a "no first use of force" agreement in the South China Sea.


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