ASEAN defense ministers meet in Bangkok

The defense ministers of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have met in Bangkok to discuss regional security issues.

The meeting took place in the Thai capital on Sunday.

In a speech, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan expressed hope for continued cooperation among member countries to address challenges facing the region’s security.

The 10 ASEAN defense ministers are believed to have discussed the South China Sea, where China is increasing its presence. North Korean denuclearization is also believed to have been on the agenda.

During a summit earlier this month, ASEAN leaders expressed concern over China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. At the same time, they took note of joint efforts by ASEAN and China to prevent conflict there.

Observers say ASEAN nations appear to be trying to find a balance in discussing security issues concerning China while not harming their growing economic ties to the country.

Defense chiefs from several other countries will hold talks with their ASEAN counterparts on Monday. They include Taro Kono from Japan, Mark Esper from the US and Wei Fenghe from China.

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