|Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh (right) and his US counterpart Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel in Singapore. — Photo VNA
SINGAPORE (VNS)— Vietnamese Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh held separate bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the US, UK and France on the sidelines of the 13th Shangri-La Dialogue.
At the meeting with US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, the two countries agreed to enhance co-operation in searching for US servicemen missing in action (MIA) during the war, clearing post-war mines and unexploded ordnance and dealing with the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin in Viet Nam.
Regarding the current East Sea situation, both Thanh and Hagel stressed the need to respect international law and the importance of maintaining peace, stability, and maritime and air security, along with freedom in the East Sea.
On the basis of mutual understanding and in a constructive spirit, they also exchanged views on protecting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Their meeting took place immediately after the US Defence Secretary delivered a speech at the first plenary session of the 13th Asia Security Forum.
Talking to the media at the forum, Thanh said he highly valued Hagel's speech that put emphasis on the need for countries to make a concerted effort to maintain a peaceful and stable environment and strictly comply with international law.
During Thanh's meetings with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, the French and UK partners voiced their concern over tensions in the East Sea.
Hammond affirmed the UK's strong support for the EU declaration, which outlined its concern over disputes between China and Viet Nam regarding the illegal rig and called on the involved parties to ease tensions and avoid unilateral actions that might harm peace and stability in the region.
Further, he underscored that the UK opposes the use of force in settling any dispute.
Meanwhile, Le Drian said he backed the settlement of disputes by peaceful means.
The same day, Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh held a working session with the Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel in his speech at the forum accused China of conducting acts that cause instability in the East Sea and warned that Washington would not ignore such acts if the international order is threatened.
He extended a clear message to China through its senior defence delegation at the dialogue. He said that China had undertaken destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the East Sea, and the US would not look the other way while fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.
Hagel also made it clear that Washington firmly opposed any nation's use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of using force to assert those claims.
Asia-Pacific ministers have also recognised the need for parties concerned to take concrete steps to deescalate current tensions to maintain peace and stability in the region.
Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Saturday hosted a luncheon for 21 visiting ministers and their representatives attending the 13th Shangri-La Dialogue, providing a valuable platform for them to engage in informal and frank discussions on current security and defence issues, according to the Press Centre of the Singapore Government.
The ministers held a wide-ranging discussion on key security challenges facing the region, including the ongoing maritime disputes and overlapping territorial claims in the East Sea and East China Sea, as well as the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
They also discussed developments beyond the region, such as the current situation in Ukraine.
The ministers acknowledged that these challenges would require a commitment of all parties concerned to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner. They agreed that a country's actions and behaviours should be underpinned by a set of established principles, norms and international law.
They further recognised the importance of open and inclusive regional frameworks, such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM+), as they will promote dialogue as well as build strategic trust through practical co-operation.
They also described the Shangri-La Dialogue as a key platform in generating positive and frank discussions on topical security issues amongst countries from within and outside the region. — VNS