The Shangri-La Dialogue, slated to take place early next month in Singapore, has been cancelled two weeks before the meeting.
The event, which was scheduled to be held on 4 Jun and 5 Jun, had to be called off due to the worsening global COVID-19 situation, said the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the organiser of the dialogue.
“In Singapore there has been a rise in local cases, the introduction of new restrictions, and the prospect of further tightening cannot be ruled out, all of which creates uncertainty.
“Taken together these various factors mean that holding an in-person Shangri-La Dialogue this year has become unviable,” said IISS.
“A wide range of defence ministers, senior officials, corporate leaders and influential strategists from Asia, North America, the Middle East and Europe have confirmed their attendance.
“The IISS has worked hard with the Government of Singapore, and in particular acted in close consultation with Singapore’s Ministry of Defence, to ensure a successful Dialogue this year, despite the challenges of the pandemic,” said IISS.
Even during COVID-19, IISS advocates the role of “face-to-face diplomacy” in finding solutions to global problems.
“We continue to hold successful face-to-face events, including the IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, which was convened in 2020, and will take place again on Nov 19 to Nov 21, 2021,” it added.
IISS’ announcement came just two days after it assured that it will carry on with the event two days prior.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said on Monday that it was “encouraged” to proceed with the event based on the positive response to invitations to the Shangri-La dialogue.
This “underscores the strong commitment of government leaders in addressing security challenges even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic”, said the ministry in reply to media queries.