US Secretary of Defense James Mattis (second, left) in a group photo with ASEAN defence ministers (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has affirmed the country’s policy on strengthening security ties with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

On the sidelines of the 17th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, which officially opened in Singapore on June 1, Mattis and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also reconfirmed the importance of US engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.

During his separate talks with defence chiefs of the ASEAN nations, Mattis expressed readiness to promote the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy," which is upheld by US President Donald Trump's administration.

The concept is aimed at ensuring stability from East Asia to Africa through cooperation with countries that share values such as freedom of navigation and the rule of law.

Mattis is scheduled to deliver a speech about security in the Indo-Pacific region at the Shangri-La Dialogue on June 2.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, has been organised annually in Singapore since 2002.

Defense officials from around 40 countries, including the US and those in Asia and Europe, are participating in this year’s meeting that is scheduled to end on June 3.-VNA