US Defence Secretary Mattis to meet Sitharaman at ASEAN meet

US Defence Secretary Mattis to meet Sitharaman at ASEAN meet

Southeast Asian defence ministers began two-day talks in the Philippines on Monday, with combating terrorism high on the agenda.

Mr Lorenzana, who is chairing the 11th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defence Ministers Meeting, said ministers discussed during a breakfast meeting the challenge of terrorism and violent extremism in Southeast Asia.

He said a fierce, five-month war between Philippine troops and Muslim militants that levelled half of the southern city of Marawi, cost over 1,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands, "can easily manifest itself in other parts of the region and beyond".

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The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region. This is being negotiated by ASEAN with China, which has laid claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. They reiterated the importance of following a code of conduct in disputed areas. Mattis told reporters traveling with him he will meet with his counterparts from Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, according to a DOD transcript.

Speaking to reporters on his way to the Philippines from the U.S., Defense Secretary James Mattis said he will discuss the "regional security crisis" caused by North Korea, and "our respect for shared values", including national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedom of navigation in global waters.

ASEAN, he said, provides an global forum, giving voice to those who want relations between states to be based on respect, not on predatory economics or on the size of militaries, in an apparent reference to China.

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