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Singapore says COVID-19 forces cancellation of Shangri-La Dialogue

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-03-28 16:53
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Police officers stand guard ahead of the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue held at Singapore's Shangri-La Hotel on May 31, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

SINGAPORE - It would be "a significant challenge" to hold the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in early June in view of the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post Saturday.

The annual SLD was held in Singapore in late May or early June by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The think tank has announced earlier that it would call off this year's SLD scheduled for June 5-7.

Looking at the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with epicenters now in Europe, Britain and the United States, and travel restrictions imposed by many countries, it would be a significant challenge to hold SLD as scheduled in early June, Ng said.

The minister expressed his thankfulness to the defense partners for their strong support to Singapore and the SLD over the years, adding that "We look forward to resuming the SLD next year."

The SLD was launched in 2002 and got its name from the venue of the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore. This would be the first time the summit would not be convened, which have, over the years, attracted participants from the United States, China, Singapore and other countries.

The IISS said on early Saturday that after close consultation with the Singaporean government, they have decided not to convene the 2020 Shangri-La Dialogue in light of the serious challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"Many countries have imposed travel restrictions in response to the pandemic and these may still be in force at the time that this year's Shangri-La Dialogue would have been convened," IISS said in a statement.

Singapore has barred all entry or transit of all short-term visitors from March 23.

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