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Singapore hosts key Asia defense summit with eye on Ukraine

June 2, 2023

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is attending the Shangri-La Dialogue. One of his priorities will be to rally support in the region for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.

Shangri-La hotel in Singapore with policemen in front
The Shangri-La Dialogue is a key Asian security forumImage: Vincent Thian/AP Photo/picture alliance

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is set to attend a major Asian defense summit in Singapore at the start of a one-week trip to the region that will see him also visit Indonesia and India.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, run by British think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), will this year host a number of key European delegates, including Ukraine's defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, amid European efforts to bolster support for Kyiv amid the Russian invasion.

The summit from June 2-4 will also focus on European commitment to the Asia region as China's increasing assertiveness raises concerns among its neighbors. 

Who will be attending the summit?

Besides Pistorius and Reznikov, other major European figures at the summit will include EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

Defense ministers from the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden are also to attend.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will speak on Saturday about American "leadership in the Indo-Pacific," while his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, will talk about his country's new security initiatives.

In a break with tradition, the two might not meet at the forum this year, with Li blacklisted by the US over his role in sending Chinese military supplies to Russia.

Pistorius is to address the summit on Sunday.

The event will be opened with a keynote address by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, whose country is a key US ally in the Pacific. 

Pistorius warns Europe not to 'neglect' Indo-Pacific

Pistorius called for Germany to expand its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region in comments ahead of the summit.

"I believe that we in Europe would be well advised not to lose sight of this region, or to put it another way, to focus on it more at all," Pistorius said after arriving in Singapore.

Pistorius stressed that the "region has a central function, plays a central role in terms of international economic relations, the security of international sea routes, but is also of central importance for global peace."

"We cannot afford to neglect this region," he said.

Meanwhile, Borrell told the German Press Agency (dpa) that the EU and its Asian partners should "jointly defend core security principles whenever and wherever they are threatened."

"The EU is a reliable security partner and we invest in common security with our Asian partners and this is very necessary in times of geopolitical instability."

tj,sdi/kb,dj (dpa, AP)

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