STORY: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday was greeted by Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo ahead of the Shangri-La Dialogue…
a security meeting which attracts top defense officials, senior military officers, diplomats, weapons makers and security analysts from around the globe,
AUSTIN: "It is truly an honor to be here.”
But tensions between the United States and China are expected to loom over Asia's top security meeting, as China has declined a bilateral meeting between the superpowers' defense chiefs.
The event - which takes place June 2-4 in Singapore - will consist of more than 600 delegates from 49 countries.
Yet the Pentagon confirmed Monday that China's new Defense Minister Li Shangfu - who met with his Singaporean counterpart Ng Eng Hen Thursday for talks - has declined to meet with Defense Secretary Austin…
blaming the U.S. for current difficulties between the two militaries.
In response to a query at a news conference, China's defense ministry spokesperson added (quote):
"On the one hand, the U.S. keeps saying that it wants to strengthen communication, but on the other hand, it ignores China's concerns and artificially creates obstacles, seriously undermining the mutual trust between the two militaries."
Meanwhile, Austin, speaking in Tokyo on Thursday, called it "unfortunate" that there would be no planned meeting.
Russia's war in Ukraine, tensions between China and Taiwan and North Korea's weapons programs will also be high on the agenda of many delegates at the dialog, according to analysts
However, no Russian or North Korean government delegates will attend.