SINGAPORE: The annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore will take place this year, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Monday (Jan 18), after a brief hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the defence summit draws delegates from dozens of countries each year. Until the cancellation, it had been held in Singapore every year since it was launched in 2002.
Last year's event, which had been scheduled to take place in June, was cancelled amid global travel restrictions meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
IISS had said it would work towards an "exceptionally strong" dialogue in 2021.
"The Shangri-La Dialogue will resume this year, as more effective safety measures are in place and vaccinations ongoing," said Dr Ng in a Facebook post.
The Sherpa Meeting, during which ministerial and senior defence officials meet to discuss relevant security issues, typically takes place as a prelude to the main dialogue.
The meeting kicked off in Singapore on Monday, said Dr Ng, with more than 200 defence officials and non-governmental experts meeting both physically and through video conferencing.
In a press release on Monday, the Ministry of Defence said that participants attending the meeting physically are required to abide by strict health and safety measures including daily pre-event antigen rapid testing for COVID-19.
Safe distancing, mask-wearing, temperature-taking, "cohorting" and regular disinfection of common areas are also being enforced, said MINDEF, adding that plexi-glass dividers have been deployed at conference and meal areas.
Singapore began piloting pre-event rapid testing in October in order to allow more large-scale events to safely resume.
In December last year, it was announced that the country will host the World Economic Forum's Special Annual Meeting in May.