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American Forces Press Service

Carter, Asia-Pacific Leaders Discuss Regional Security Issues

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 04, 2016 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with several defense leaders from Asia-Pacific nations today in Singapore during the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major annual forum for key leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss security challenges and opportunities. They discussed various issues related to mutual security and cooperation in the region, according to several DoD news releases.

Carter, South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo, and Japanese Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani held a productive and substantive meeting to discuss the regional security environment, including the North Korean threat and trilateral defense cooperation among the United States, South Korea, and Japan, according to a release. The defense ministers' meeting followed the successful trilateral summit held March 31 in Washington, D.C.

Condemning North Korea's Provocative Actions

Carter and the ministers condemned in the strongest terms North Korea's recent provocative actions, including its fourth nuclear test and multiple ballistic missile launches as clear violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, a release said. The U.S. defense secretary and the ministers affirmed the intention of the three countries to cooperate closely with one another and with the international community, to enforce United Nations Security Council resolution 2270. The three officials urged North Korea to refrain immediately from taking further actions that aggravate tensions and called on North Korea instead to focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments.

The U.S. defense secretary and the ministers praised the close trilateral communication and cooperation that took place at various levels before and immediately following these incidents, a release said. They concluded that the three countries should continue these efforts by utilizing the current Defense Trilateral Talks framework to enable rapid coordination among their respective defense authorities in the event of future North Korean threats or to address non-traditional security issues, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Carter and the ministers recognized that the United States, South Korea, and Japan face common challenges, including North Korean nuclear and missile threats, a release said. The three officials affirmed that trilateral defense cooperation contributes to the individual security of the three countries, as well as to regional security. The three officials directed their respective staffs to cooperate closely through the DTT framework in fields where mutual cooperation is possible, and within this context, to explore ways to improve communication and coordination among the three defense authorities.

The U.S. defense secretary and the ministers discussed the upcoming trilateral missile warning exercise, Pacific Dragon, which is to be conducted in accordance with the Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement, a release said. Carter and the ministers also decided to seek additional opportunities to promote trilateral defense cooperation, such as through defense medical related events and other cultural exchanges.

Carter and the ministers reaffirmed the importance of enhancing information-sharing, and decided to increase information-sharing regarding North Korean nuclear and missile threats in accordance with the TISA, a release said.

Maritime Security, Freedom of Navigation

The U.S. defense secretary and the ministers also discussed regional security issues, including the importance of maritime security, according to a release. The three officials reiterated that the freedom of navigation and overflight must be ensured and that disputes should be resolved peacefully.

Nakatani thanked Han and Carter, as well as the people of South Korea and the United States, for their swift and generous support and assistance following the April Kumamoto earthquakes, a release said.

Carter and the ministers decided to continue holding consultations on trilateral security issues and affirmed their commitment to promoting defense cooperation among the United States, South Korea, and Japan in order to contribute to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world, a release said.

The U.S. defense secretary also met separately with Nakatani, a release said. Carter thanked Nakatani for his continued support of the U.S.-Japan alliance. The two leaders discussed a wide range of regional and global security issues, including the security situation in the East and South China Seas, as well as the persistent threat from North Korea.

Carter reiterated his regret over the murder of a young woman in Okinawa and extended his sincere apologies to the victim's family and friends, a release said. He also expressed his sympathies to the people of Japan. Carter confirmed DoD's intent to work closely with the government of Japan on measures aimed at preventing incidents in the future. As part of this work, Carter and Nakatani decided to focus on the following areas:

-- Reviewing Status of Forces Agreement implementation practices related to U.S. personnel with SOFA status, including the civilian component;

-- Strengthening the monitoring of SOFA status of U.S. personnel, including the civilian component; and

-- Enhancing education and training for U.S. personnel with SOFA status, including the civilian component.

Carter and Nakatani confirmed their intent to develop these measures at the earliest possible occasion.

To continue the implementation of the new Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, Carter and Nakatani signed a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Memorandum of Understanding, which will increase defense technological collaboration and cooperation, a release said.

Carter thanked Nakatani for Japanese cooperation in efforts to move forward with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including the transfer of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, a release said. In addition, they confirmed that the Futenma Replacement Facility at Camp Schwab/Henoko-saki is the only solution that addresses operational, political, financial, and strategic concerns and avoids the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

Also, Carter and South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo met separately and they discussed the current situation in North Korea, the regional security environment, and U.S.-South Korea alliance and cooperative efforts, a release said.

Carter and Han strongly condemned North Korea's fourth nuclear test and missile launches as clear violations of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, a release said.

The two leaders renewed their call on North Korea to adhere to its international commitments and abandon its nuclear program in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, according to a release. The United States reaffirmed its ironclad commitment to the defense of South Korea, and pledged to draw on the full range of its military capabilities to continue to provide extended deterrence to South Korea.

Carter and Han noted the importance of full and effective implementation by all United Nations member states of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2270, and previous relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, and decided to continue close U.S.-South Korean cooperation to promote effective global enforcement, a release said.

The U.S. defense secretary and Han pledged to continue to enhance close alliance cooperation to address regional and global security challenges of mutual interest, including efforts to enhance trilateral security cooperation with Japan, reinforce maritime security, and combat terrorism and violent extremism, a release said.

Carter and Han lauded the unwavering strength of the U.S.-South Korea alliance, the linchpin of regional peace and stability, and underscored their shared commitment to building a comprehensive, global alliance based on shared values and interests, a release said.

Maintaining Peace, Stability in Asia-Pacific

Carter also met with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, and the two leaders exchanged views on the regional security environment, and discussed the importance of principled, networked, security architecture to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, a release said. Carter and Parrikar reviewed preparations for Indian Prime Minister Modi's upcoming visit to Washington. They also discussed progress made on a wide range of bilateral defense issues and committed to further efforts to expand defense cooperation between the United States and India.

This marks the fifth meeting between the Carter and Parrikar within a year, and the two agreed to continue their close cooperation, a release said.

Carter also met with Malaysian Minister of Defense Hishammuddin Hussein, and the two leaders discussed regional and global security issues and bilateral defense cooperation, a release said.

The two leaders exchanged views on the regional security environment in Southeast Asia, and they discussed the need for peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, a release said. Carter noted that the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal ruling on the Philippines-China claims will be binding on both parties.

They discussed a range of issues, including cooperation on countering violent extremism from groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a release said. Carter also reiterated the importance of continuing to strengthen defense ties with Malaysia to combat transnational threats.

Carter and Hishammuddin said they looked forward to the U.S. - Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Informal that is planned for late September in Hawaii, a release said.

Yesterday in Singapore, Carter lauded the 50th anniversary of U.S. diplomatic relations with that country and highlighted the importance of cooperation in maritime security and anti-terrorism.

The United States is, as it has been for decades, thankful to have a capable, principled partner in Singapore, the defense secretary said at a press conference with his Singaporean counterpart, Ng Eng Hen. They spoke at the Defense Ministry in Bukit Batok.

"We have no better friend than Singapore," Carter said. "I'm grateful for that."

Singapore, he said, just like the United States, stands for cooperation, inclusiveness and principle in the conduct of international affairs.

Hen described the defense relations between Singapore and the U.S. as "very strong."

Yesterday, Carter also met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The two leaders affirmed their countries' long-standing security partnership and discussed a range of issues related to mutual security interests, according to a release.

Carter also met yesterday with Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, according to a release. The two leaders exchanged views on the regional security environment in Southeast Asia and recent progress in multilateral security cooperation.

Carter also discussed opportunities for increased regional operational cooperation, and expressed his appreciation to the Indonesian defense minister for his nation's continued contributions to regional security.

Carter and Ryacudu also discussed the need for peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, a release said. Carter noted the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Arbitral Tribunal ruling on the Philippines-China claims will be binding on both parties. And, Carter reiterated the importance of continuing to strengthen defense ties with Indonesia in combating transnational threats.

Carter and Ryacudu said they looked forward to the Defense Informal meeting between the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that is planned for late September in Hawaii.



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