Shangri-la Dialogue: Defense officials expected to discuss Taiwan, S. China Sea

Defense officials from Asian and Western countries started a three-day conference in Singapore on Friday called the Shangri-la Dialogue.
They're expected to discuss security issues in Asia, including Taiwan, the South China Sea and North Korea.

Participants include US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Japanese Defense Minister Kihara Minoru and Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun. Diplomatic sources say Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will also take part.

Earlier on Friday, Austin and Dong held a separate meeting. It was the first face-to-face talks between defense chiefs of their countries in about a year and a half.
US and Chinese officials say Austin and Dong agreed to continue dialogue between defense officials. But the two sides failed to narrow their differences over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Tensions between the US and China are growing over Asia and the Pacific. The Chinese military says it carried out mock attacks crossing what Beijing considers a defense line against the US during an exercise around Taiwan last week.

In the South China Sea, Beijing is ramping up pressure through so-called grey zone tactics that fall short of military action. In April, the Chinese coast guard fired water cannons at ships of US ally the Philippines.

A session to discuss cooperation among coast guards from participating countries will be held at the conference for the first time.

Japan and China's defense ministers are scheduled to hold a meeting on the second day.