The IISS Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) is a "Track One" inter-governmental security forum held annually by an independent think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) which is attended by defense ministers, permanent heads of ministries and military chiefs of 28 Asia-Pacific states. The forum gets its name from the Shangri-La Hotel inSingapore where it has been held since 2002.
The summit serves to cultivate a sense of community among the most important policymakers in the defence and security community in the region. Government delegations have made the best out of the meeting by holding bilateral meetings with other delegations on the sidelines of the conference. While primarily a inter-governmental meeting, the summit is also attended by legislators, academic experts, distinguished journalists and business delegates.The Shangri-La Dialogue was conceived by the current IISS Director-General and Chief Executive Sir John Chipman in 2001 in response to the clear need for a forum where the Asia Pacific defence ministers could engage in dialogue aimed at building confidence and fostering practical security cooperation.
In the 2012 meeting the most critical item on the agenda was the meeting on the US rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific that was addressed by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. He sought to explain the decision of the United States to “re-posture” its naval forces from a roughly equal distribution between the Pacific and the Atlantic to a 60/40 split between the two oceans by 2020, emphasising the new importance of Asia. [Related: US Asian-Pivot strategy] 2
India’s Defence Minister A.K.Antony spoke of the country’s interests in the session on maritime security. He clarified its position that “maritime freedoms cannot be the exclusive prerogative of a few. Large parts of the common seas cannot be declared exclusive to any one country or group. We must find the balance between the rights of nations and the freedoms of the world community in the maritime domain.” He clarified India’s position further, saying that “keeping in view the issues that have arisen with regard to the South China Sea, India has welcomed the efforts of the parties concerned in engaging in discussion… We hope that the issues will be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.” Antony was thereby able to convey India’s perceptions on the South China Sea vis-à-vis the contending nationalist and internationalist approaches of China and the United States.2 [Related: Controversies in South-China Sea]