Sri Lanka looking for intelligence at Asian security meet

SINGAPORE, July 17, 2008 (AFP) – From Pakistan to Sri Lanka and southern Thailand, people are dying in Asia’s numerous conflict zones — but progress in resolving the unrest is unlikely at Asia’s main security meet next week, observers say.

Ministers and top officials from Asia, Europe and the United States gather in Singapore on July 24 for the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the principal official forum for security dialogue in Asia.

The gathering, the culmination of meetings by Southeast Asian foreign ministers and officials beginning this Thursday, includes nations with some of Asia’s most worrying and intractable security problems.

But analysts say that while the ARF might discuss some of these deadly and, in some cases, escalating conflicts, little action will be forthcoming.

“They discuss everything under the sun… That’s all it is. It’s a talk shop,” said Carl Thayer of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University.

“It’s a virtual organisation. It comes together once a year and then disappears,” he said.

The group of 27 member nations has no history of active involvement in the region’s troubles, said Damien Kingsbury of Australia’s Deakin University.

“It’s re