Defence ministers meet to shape Asian security

Defence ministers from South East Asia and eight other powers, including India, are meeting in the Brunei capital Thursday to shape new regional security cooperation architecture in Asia.

Bandar Seri Begawan: Defence ministers from South East Asia and eight other powers, including India, are meeting in the Brunei capital Thursday to shape new regional security cooperation architecture in Asia.

They are expected to discuss territorial disputes at sea as well as possible Western military action against Syria.

The conference includes defence chiefs from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and eight other countries: Japan, China, South Korea, the United States, Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Meeting under the framework of the ASEAN Defense Ministers` Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), the countries would exchange views on diverse regional defence and security challenges and promote mutual trust and understanding and cooperation in non-traditional security fields.

Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh is representing India, whose military diplomacy is said to have a significant impact on the setting up of a new security structure in the Asia-Pacific.

ADMM-Plus is part of the ASEAN effort at constructing a sustainable regional security architecture amidst the growing military tensions -- on the one hand, between China and its East Asian neighbours and, on the other, between Beijing and Washington.

The first meeting of the ADMM took place in Hanoi three years ago. At that meeting, the countries had reached an agreement to focus on maritime security, counter-terrorism, disaster management, peacekeeping operations and military medicine, and set up five expert working groups on this are.

Maritime security is one of biggest concern in the region. Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia are embroiled in territorial disputes with China over several resource-rich islands in the South China Sea.

Japan and China are engaged in a separate dispute in the East China Sea.

Many of the nations accuse China of using its rapidly advancing military to more aggressively defend what it views as its territory. Some of the nations have expanded their defence cooperation with the United States.

On Wednesday, ASEAN defence ministers and senior officials pledged to further strengthen cooperation to address defence and security challenges in the region at the ASEAN Defence Ministers` Meeting (ADMM).

US defence Secretary Chuck Hagel held bilateral talks with his counterparts from Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Brunei, Burma and China.

During the meetings, each country expressed strong support for the steady US presence in the Asia-Pacific and viewed US engagement in the region as a key contributor to peace and stability.

Hagel noted the need to continue progress toward peacefully resolving territorial disputes, and committed to continued US support for ASEAN, said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

The ADMM-Plus will help lay the groundwork for October`s East Asian Summit, which will be attended by world leaders, including President Barack Obama. The meeting is also expected to focus on other regional and international security and trade issues.

IANS

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