New Delhi: The Singapore government organised a secret gathering of senior intelligence officials from about two dozen countries at the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue defence summit, Reuters reported on Sunday, June 4.
Sources told the news agency that such meetings, which have been previously unreported, take place alongside the summit every year at a different location in order to facilitate discussion “when more formal and open diplomacy is harder”.
An Indian source confirmed to Reuters that Samant Goel, the head of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), attended the secret meeting.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine sent representatives to this meeting, the Reuters report added.
The Shangri-La Dialogue is organised by British think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) at the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore and is the only annual security meeting in the Asia-Pacific region.
Over 600 delegates representing 49 countries, including India, attended the summit this year, which was held between Friday, May 2, and Sunday, May 4. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese delivered the keynote address.
“If you don’t have the pressure valve of dialogue, if you don’t have the capacity – at a decision-making level – to pick up the phone, to seek some clarity or provide some context, then there is always a much greater risk of assumptions spilling over into irretrievable action and reaction,” he said referring to relations between the US and China.
Bilateral relations between the two superpowers featured prominently at the three-day summit.
India’s deputy national security advisor Vikram Misri also attended the summit, where he spoke about the country’s stand on forming military alliances.
“India does not believe in partnering in military alliances. We are, however, a partner for many countries including in the military and defence field,” he said, adding that when it comes to India’s pacts with the US, “as sovereign countries, India and the US conclude such agreements as all other countries have it,” news agency PTI quoted him as saying.