South Korean defense chief to visit Singapore for security forum

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) — South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup plans to visit Singapore on Thursday afternoon to attend an annual security forum, where military threats from the North Korea, Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s assertion should take center stage.

The three-day Shangri-La Dialogue is set to open on Friday, with the participation of senior officials from more than 40 countries, including the United States, China, Britain, Australia, Canada, Japan and Ukraine, according to officials in Seoul.

The forum consists of seven key plenary sessions, including those on the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy, China’s vision of regional order, military modernization and managing “geopolitical competition in a multipolar region”.

During Sunday’s sixth session on “common challenges” in Asia-Pacific and Europe, Lee plans to explain the Yoon Suk-yeol administration’s policy on North Korea and its current Indo-Pacific strategic framework. in development.

Seoul’s planned Indo-Pacific strategy is expected to involve more comprehensive elements for regional security, economic and diplomatic cooperation beyond its previous goal of deepening ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. , observers said.

On the sidelines of the forum, Lee is expected to hold bilateral and trilateral meetings with his counterparts.

On Saturday, Lee is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin bilaterally and attend trilateral talks with Austin and Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. Lee and Kishi do not intend to hold bilateral talks, officials said.

During the forum, Lee also plans to meet bilaterally with his counterparts from China, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the Netherlands and the European Union.

The back-to-back talks are expected to focus on cooperation to deal with evolving nuclear and missile threats from the North.

Last weekend, the North fired eight short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea in its 18th show of force this year. The latest provocation came amid speculation the North could conduct what will be its seventh nuclear test at its Punggye-ri test site.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, launched in 2002, is hosted by a British research institute, the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Melvin B. Baillie