SINGAPOERE - Despite the ongoing crisis in Syria, defence leaders from the United States, China and Russia joined ASEAN nations in a biennial meeting in Brunei to discuss regional security issues.
This commitment shows that the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus is now “well entrenched as a critical node” in the region’s security framework, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Friday.
Dr Ng was speaking to reporters at a briefing at the Ministry of Defence upon his return from the meeting this week, the second such gathering of defence ministers from ASEAN states and their counterparts from the US, China, Russia, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The ADMM-Plus meeting took place as the US, Britain and France were mulling over taking military action against Syria for alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens in an ongoing civil war.
Defence ministers from all countries were represented in Brunei, apart from Russia and India who sent senior defence officials.
The US was represented by Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, while China sent its Defence Minister Chang Wanquan.
“The commitment by defence ministers is a good reflection of the importance of ADMM-Plus,” said Dr Ng. He added that Mr Hagel’s presence “underscored the US’ desire” to have a greater presence in the region.
US President Barack Obama’s administration had announced in November 2011 that the US would “pivot” strategically to Asia, redeploying 60 per cent of its navy to the region by 2020, up from 50 per cent currently.