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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2611

Sri Lanka among 26 countries at high-powered Asian security summit

Neville de Silva - Diplomatic Editor Asian Tribune

London , 30 May, ( :Sri Lanka is due to participate at the major Asian security summit starting in Singapore on Thursday at which the progress made in counter terrorism activities will be an important subject.

This is the first time Sri Lanka participates at this summit which began in 2002. The presence of official delegations from several southeast countries which have reportedly been used by the LTTE as bases or transshipment points for the smuggling of weapons and narcotics will make this summit of particular significance to Colombo.

There would be time during the three-day conference for bilateral meetings which will allow delegations to follow up on issues discussed earlier or raise new matters affecting national security.

Organized by the prestigious London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies(IISS) this summit known as the Shangrila-La Dialogue will bring together defence ministers and key officials from some of the major powers including the US, China, India, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, the UK and Indonesia to discuss such crucial issues in today’s world as Indo-China relations, what progress has been made in securing regional waters and security cooperation in Asia.

From Sri Lanka’s standpoint one of the key issues- the progress made in counterterrorism- will be discussed as an off-the-record session during one of the three breakout groups.

The other two breakout groups will discuss “Intervening in Fragile States” and “New Challenges for Security Sector Reform.”

As the IISS points out this three day security summit will help shape the inter-governmental debate between the states of Asia-Pacific and the major outside powers on the key security issues facing the region.

Last year some of the proposals that emerged from the summit were for greater maritime security cooperation in the Malacca Straits and the establishment of a regional disaster and humanitarian relief centre.

With Sri Lanka and Bangladesh participating for the first time this year’s Dialogue is expected to build on past discussions and provide the foundation for future security policies.

The presence of sea pirates and the emergence of a “third navy” in the south-southeast Asian region in the shape of the LTTE’s Sea Tigers” and its use of Asian shipping routes for the smuggling of arms is expected to provide an added dimension following interceptions by the Indian coastguard and navy and very recently by the Maldivian coastguard.

The presence of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Timor-Leste some of which have been used by the LTTE for the purchase and shipment of arms according to official and media reports, would make the summit of importance to Sri Lanka.

The IISS says that the Shangri-La Dialogue has been recognized as a key event for defence and security diplomacy for the region.

“Since its inaugural meeting in 2002, the Dialogue has become a recognised part of the architecture of Asian defence diplomacy and is seen as the region’s premier and most inclusive security institution.”

Besides the countries already named, others attending are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Singapore.

- Asian Tribune -

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