US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Ng Eng Hen affirm need for stable defence relations
SINGAPORE: United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Friday (Jun 10) reaffirmed close bilateral ties between the two countries and discussed ways to further strengthen defence cooperation.
Mr Austin called on Dr Ng at the Shangri-La Hotel during his official visit to Singapore. Mr Austin will also attend the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue, which starts on the same day.
“Dr Ng and Secretary Austin reaffirmed the excellent bilateral defence relationship and the mutually-beneficial partnership between Singapore and the US,” said the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) in a news release.
During the meeting, Dr Ng expressed appreciation for the US’ strong support for the Singapore Armed Forces’ training in the US, including the US’ support for the RSAF’s acquisition and operationalisation of the F-35Bs, the ministry added.
Both sides also discussed ways to further strengthen defence cooperation between Singapore and the US, such as in the area of cyber defence, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning cooperation in cyberspace in August 2021, said MINDEF.
Mr Austin also reaffirmed the US’ commitment to engage the Asia-Pacific region and play a strong role in the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.
“He expressed appreciation for Singapore’s support for the US’ regional presence, even amidst COVID-19,” MINDEF said.
Additionally, Dr Ng and Mr Austin reaffirmed the need for stable defence relations, as well as for regional countries to work collectively for security and prosperity of the region.
The defence relationship between Singapore and the US is anchored by the 1990 MOU Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore, which was renewed in 2019.
There is also the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement that recognised Singapore as a major security cooperation partner, and the 2015 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement which expanded defence collaboration across traditional and non-conventional security areas and laid out new areas of cooperation including in counter-terrorism and biosecurity.
Mr Austin made his introductory visit to Singapore in July 2021, where he met with Dr Ng and separately called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Mr Austin will also call on Mr Lee during this visit, and will speak at a plenary session titled Next Steps for the United States’ Indo-Pacific Strategy on Jun 11 at the Shangri-La Dialogue.