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Sustained US engagement in Asia Pacific key to 'peace, stability and prosperity' of region: PM Lee

WASHINGTON, DC — Singapore continues to support the United States’ military presence in Asia because its presence in the Asia Pacific is “critical to the region’s continued peace, stability and prosperity”, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday (March 28).

Sustained US engagement in Asia Pacific key to 'peace, stability and prosperity' of region: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) walking alongside US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on March 28, 2022.

  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon
  • At the meeting, both countries agreed on the -Pacific region
  • Singapore believes that a strong US military presence is critical to the region’s continued peace, stability and prosperity
  • Mr Lee is on a working visit to the US, during which he will be meeting President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris

WASHINGTON, DC — Singapore continues to support the United States’ military presence in Asia because its presence in the Asia Pacific is “critical to the region’s continued peace, stability and prosperity”, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday (March 28).

Speaking at the start of their meeting at the Pentagon, Mr Lee said that the “excellent and longstanding” bilateral defence ties are key elements to the strong partnership between the two countries.

“In the face of tough global challenges over the years, our two countries have continued to work closely together. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, our air and naval bases, as well as our ports remained open to port calls, transit, maintenance and repair operations.” 

Singapore also took a strong stand on principles when the conflict in Ukraine broke out, Mr Lee added.

“The principle that sovereignty, territorial integrity and national borders should not be violated in contravention of the United Nations Charter, is fundamental and existential.”

Welcoming the Singapore delegation to the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defence, Mr Austin said that the US “deeply appreciates” Singapore's strong statements and actions opposing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, referring to the country's decision to impose unilateral sanctions on Russia.

“(Russia) has greatly underestimated the world’s resolve to impose costs... for its unprovoked aggression,” Mr Austin said.

Singapore's status as a major security cooperation partner of the US was also acknowledged by both sides at the meeting.

Calling Singapore one of the US’ most valued defence partners, Mr Austin said that the military cooperation between the two countries has long helped to ensure security in the region, and Singapore's support for US forces is an “anchor of America's presence” in the Indo-Pacific region.

In his remarks, Mr Lee said that it is important for Singapore and the US to continue working together to jointly face present and future challenges.

“I hope from our conversations, we will be able to deepen the existing slate of cooperation, and explore new areas of mutual interest.” 

At the meeting, he was accompanied by Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Singapore's ambassador to the US Ashok Mirpuri.

Mr Lee’s press secretary Chang Li Lin said that both countries discussed expanding defence cooperation in areas such as "cyber, artificial intelligence and joint training" during the meeting, and agreed on the importance of the sustained engagement by the US in the region.

The Singapore delegation is in the US on a working visit until April 2, during which Mr Lee will meet US President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, as well as other senior state officials.

Besides Mr Austin, Mr Lee also met US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington.

They discussed the growing economic and financial cooperation between the two countries and exchanged views on domestic responses to facilitate recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and exchanged views on regional and international issues, including the developments in Ukraine, Ms Chang said.

Mr Lee and Ms Yellen also discussed cooperation at international fora to deal with emerging challenges affecting the global financial system, she added.

Related topics

Lee Hsien Loong USA Pentagon Politics defence Russia Ukraine

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