Source Pravda.Ru

First time Russia attends ASEAN Defense Ministers meeting

About 20 ministers of Asia-Pacific region countries will take part in a three-day conference of defense ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) opening in Singapore on June 4.

The Russian embassy in Singapore said on Wednesday that First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov would represent Russia at the forum. This is the first time that Russia is attending such a conference at so high a level, it was noted at the embassy.

A press release issued by the meeting's organizers stresses that this conference, which is held for the third year running, is the only forum in the Asia-Pacific region that brings together defense ministers and senior officials from bodies concerned with defense and security to discuss in a multilateral format matters relating to defense and regional cooperation in the given field.

The conference, which is being organized by the Singapore branch of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, is also known as Shangri-La dialogue (the name of the hotel where it is meeting).

The forum is expected to be attended by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and his opposite numbers from Australia and the Philippines Robert Hill and Eduardo Ermita. Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong will open the meeting.

Its participants will discuss anti-missile defenses in the Asia-Pacific region, the use of new technologies in ensuring security in the region, and regional cooperation in security.

Regional media report that a separate development at the forum will be a discussion of the US proposal to the region's countries that they should help with patrolling the busiest seaway of the planet - the Malacca Strait. Singapore supports this idea, but Indonesia and Malaysia have bitterly opposed it on several occasions.

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