Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Tea Banh will lead a senior delegation of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to attend the 18th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue – a three-day event in Singapore to exchange views on regional security.
A statement issued by Banh on Wednesday said the invitation to the summit, which will be held from Friday to Sunday, came from Singapore’s minister of national defence.
“As in previous years, the Ministry of National Defence will participate in the 18th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. During the three-day visit to Singapore, Cambodian delegates will attend bilateral and multilateral meetings with other countries in the region."
“The meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for bilateral and multilateral meetings for delegates and the heads of national defence from every country to discuss security in the region,” the statement said.
Ministry of National Defence spokesman Chum Socheat told The Post on Wednesday that the gathering will be attended by the heads of national defence from every country in Asia.
“I don’t have much to comment. Minister Tea Banh will attend the meeting about security matters in the Asian region, but I don’t know what topics he intends to bring to the discussion table,” he said.
The Shangri-La Dialogue is an informal inter-governmental security forum held annually by independent think tank IISS which is attended by defence ministers, permanent heads of ministries and military chiefs of 28 Asia-Pacific states.
The forum gets its name from the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore where it has been held since 2002.
The summit serves to cultivate a sense of community among the most important policymakers in the defence and security community in the region.
Government delegations have made the best out of the meeting by holding bilateral meetings with other delegations on the sidelines of the conference.
While primarily an inter-governmental meeting, the summit is also attended by legislators, academic experts, distinguished journalists and business delegates.
As well as delegations from the Asia-Pacific region, participants have also included Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, the UK and the US.
Shangri-La has contributed to the enhancement of defence diplomacy by participating countries, in part by inspiring similar forums in other regions, for example the Halifax International Security Forum – an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organisation headquartered in Washington, DC.
The 2010 Chinese Defence White paper explicitly mentioned senior Chinese participation in the Shangri-La Dialogue since 2007 as one of their forums of participation in regional security cooperation.
The IISS thinks that China’s increased representation shows its eagerness in increasing its engagement on a multilateral level and is a recognition that the People’s Liberation Army wants to soften its image after a series of steps that were seen as too aggressive resulted in a downturn in relations with its neighbours.