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S. Korean defense minister in Singapore for security forum

All Headlines 08:00 June 01, 2018

By Lee Chi-dong

SINGAPORE, June 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo arrived in Singapore on Friday to attend a major security forum, the stage for high-level discussions on the North Korea issue and other regional security challenges.

The 17th Asia Security Summit, better known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, comes at a time when regional security faces a potential turning point, with the leaders of North Korea and the United States expected to meet each other here later this month.

A team of North Korean officials is on a visit to this city state for preparatory consultations with aides to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Diplomacy on North Korea, indeed, is expected to dominate the forum to last through Sunday, although the communist nation is not joining it.

Song is scheduled to deliver a speech at a Saturday session titled "De-escalating the North Korea Crisis." He plans to introduce Seoul's efforts for the denuclearization of the peninsula and peace, highlighted by two rounds of inter-Korean summit talks in recent weeks.

A view of the Shangri-La hotel, where the 17th Asia Security Summit is to open on June 1, 2018 (Yonhap)

The minister will begin his official activity here with a meeting with the Chinese delegation later Friday. It's led by Lt. Gen. He Lei, vice president of the Academy of Military Science of the People's Liberation Army.

China's assertiveness in the South China Sea is anther main topic in the annual Shangri-La Dialogue named after the hotel where it is held.

On his way to Singapore, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis made it clear that Washington will confront Beijing's military muscle-flexing in the tense region.

He announced that the Pacific Command would be renamed the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), citing the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Song and Mattis are likely to exchange views on North Korea and Washington's new strategy in the Pacific when they hold a meeting on Saturday on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue.

It will bring together ministers and delegates from dozens of countries, including those in Asia and Europe.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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