Saturday, 24 June 2017

The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2017

Think tank snub clouds India-Singapore ties

New Delhi pulled out of the strategic, annual Shangri-La Dialogue over ranking of Indian Minister.

A snub from Singapore’s annual Shangri-La dialogue led to India’s decision to withdraw its delegation led by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre last week, officials have confirmed to The Hindu.

According to senior officials privy to the decision, organisers of the prestigious conference informed the government that the Indian Minister did not rank as highly as Pakistan’s Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, as “civil military relations in Pakistan are different from those in India.”

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India pulls out of Defence Dialogue threatening to sour “friendly ties between India and Singapore”

Just when the bilateral ties between China and Singapore have become a bit better, another incident has threatened to sour the “friendly ties between India and Singapore”.

This was reported by The Hindu on Sat (10 Jun),’Think tank snub clouds India-Singapore ties’. The Hindu is the second most circulated daily English-language mainstream newspaper in India, with average circulation of some 1.5 million.

It reported that the Indian delegation was pulled out of the recent Shangri-La Dialogue which was held early this month in Singapore over the ranking of Indian Minister. A perceived snub from the organizer of the event led to India’s decision to withdraw its entire delegation led by Indian Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, reported The Hindu. It has confirmed this with Indian officials.

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INDIA PULLED OUT OF SHANGRI-LA SECURITY DIALOGUE, SAYS TIES WITH SG SOURED BY INCIDENT

The Indian delegation to Singapore's annual Shangri-La Dialogue pulled out of the conference due to a snub over the ranking of an Indian minister, says a report from The Hindu.

According to the paper, the organizer, the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), had told the delegation led by Indian Minister Subhash Bhamre that he did not rank as highly as Pakistan's Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, because "civil military relations in Pakistan are different from those in India".

As a result, Mr Bhamre, who was representing India on behalf of Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, was only allowed to speak at a "plenary session" on the last day of the event, and not sit on one of the panels as the Pakistani General Hayat.

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India pulls out of Shangri La dialogue, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley caught up with work
While it is still unclear how the talks broke down, India pulled out of the conference at a short notice this week, after the minister was allegedly denied an appropriate speaking slot.

NEW DELHI: India has skipped Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore, which is addressed by top defence minipsters from across the world. Defence minister Arun Jaitley could not go due to work-related commitments.

While it is still unclear how the talks broke down, India pulled out of the conference at a short notice.

The annual conference will not have any Indian speaker unlike last year, when the defence minister had delivered an address on the country's security concerns.

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IISS team in Delhi to ease diplomatic tensions after India pulled out of Shangri-La Dialogue
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis poses for a picture with ASEAN defence leaders. Reuters
A team from the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), which runs the Asia's premier Shangri-La Dialogue, is in Delhi for damage control over the diplomatic faux pas post the Shangri-La Dialogue, reported The Hindu.

According to The Hindu, a senior fellow of the institute, Tim Huxley is in the capital to engage with key stakeholders in the Indian security establishment. He will be working closely with the Indian government to ensure that India is fully represented at next year's SLD.

This is following India's decision to withdraw from the dialogue after it was informed that the Minister Of State For Defence, Subhash Bhamre, who was filling in for Defense Minister Arun Jaitley, would only be accommodated at a "plenary session" on the last day of the three-day event and not on one of the main panels as Pakistan's Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, which turned out to be a deal-breaker for India, reported The Economic Times.

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A tale of two diplomatic snubs

A few days earlier, over 6,000 km away, the tiny state of Singapore hosted the 16th Asia Security Summit, June 2–4. Also known as the Shangri La Dialogue, this is a multilateral annual meeting of defence ministers and military affairs experts from the Asia-Pacific, North American and European countries.

India, which had planned to send a delegation led by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, pulled out at the last minute as Bhamre was not given a speaking slot at the main plenary session, which was addressed by Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, US secretary of defence General (Retd) James Mattis and General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, chairman, joint chiefs of staff committee, Pakistan armed forces among others.

While Singapore regretted the error, the ‘damage’ as an Indian official was quoted as saying, ‘had been done’. While there’s no doubt that India’s decision to withdraw was correct, it also missed an opportunity to interact with senior statesmen and stakeholders gathered to discuss issues which impact Indian strategic interests in the region.

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China sent a smaller-than-usual delegation to the Shangri-La Dialogue, and it’s really not a big deal

The Shangri-La Dialogue is a once-a-year high-powered military summit that often sees high-ranking military officials from all over the world convene in Singapore, at the Shangri-La Hotel in Orange Grove Road.

The three-day event consists of panel sessions helmed by ministers, and senior military officials, as well as break-out groups for further discussion on issues pertinent to Asia-Pacific regional security.

Various countries’ delegations have also increasingly used the summit to meet and broker deals or agreements with other countries’ officials, so it can be said to be a fairly important part of an Asia-Pacific country’s military calendar.

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The Global Times: “Send lower level team to Shangri-la Dialogue next year”
Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong meeting with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on 26 August 2013 in Beijing. (Photo: Ministry of Communicatons and Information)

The Global Times has called on Beijing to send a lower level delegation to the Shangri-la Dialogue next year. Describing the security summit held yearly in Singapore since 2002 as a platform Singapore built for the US and Japan, the Chinese newspaper said in a June 11 editorial that China has no reason to show support for it.

China sent a delegation led by a Lieutenant General which the paper felt was “still a bit too high”. Pointing out that the country in recent years has sent fewer officials for training in Singapore, it saw it as another sign of the decreasing influence of the country over China.

Hence, it said, China needs to take a normal attitude toward Singapore swinging between the US and China.

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