United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

US defense chief calls Chinese counterpart’s refusal to meet in Singapore ‘unfortunate’

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

Tokyo, Jun 1 (EFE).- United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that it was “unfortunate” that his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, had refused to meet him on the sidelines of an upcoming defense summit in Singapore.

“I think thats unfortunate,” Austin said in Tokyo when asked by reporters about Beijing’s rejection of Washington’s proposal for a meeting between both countries’ defense chiefs on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, to be held between Friday and Sunday in Singapore.

Austin said that some of China’s recent actions in the international airspace, such as the interception of a US reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, were “very concerning” and hoped that it would alter its actions.

He also advocated for open channels for communication between the defense departments of both countries and said that “they should be talking to each other on a routine basis.”

“You heard me talk a number of times about the importance of countries with significant capabilities being able to talk to each others so you can manage crisis and prevent things from going out of control unnecessarily,” Austin said, during a joint press conference with Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada.

“I am concerned about at some point having an incident that could very, very quickly spiral out of control,” he added.

Austin said that Washington will “continue to work with mind-liked countries who share common values and common goals to continue to promote a free and open Indo-pacific.”

The US defense secretary met his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo on Thursday before their scheduled departure to participate in the security summit.

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