Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin at Mindef headquarters on July 27, 2021.PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK
Article from The Straits Times
SINGAPORE – US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Singapore on Tuesday (July 27), as both leaders reaffirmed defence ties and expressed hope for further cooperation in areas such as cyber defence and strategic communications.
According to the Ministry of Defence, during their meeting, Dr. Ng and Mr. Austin reaffirmed the excellent and longstanding bilateral defense relations, and expressed satisfaction that military cooperation remained strong despite the COVID-19 pandemic. They also exchanged views on geopolitical developments and regional security issues, and agreed on the importance of the United States’ continued engagement in the region.
Mr Austin, a retired four-star general, is on his introductory visit to Singapore from Monday to Wednesday, as part of the first trip to South-east Asia by a top member of US President Joe Biden’s administration.
Mr Austin visited Vietnam before arriving in Singapore and will visit the Philippines before heading back to Washington. He is scheduled to deliver a speech titled The Imperative Of Partnership at The Fullerton Hotel later on Tuesday. He is expected to talk about how the US is working with its network of allies and partners to modernise capabilities, among other things.
Mr. Austin, who took office in January, called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday as part of his visit. He was due to lead a delegation last month to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, but the event was cancelled.
Dr. Ng and Mr. Austin highlighted new and growing areas of cooperation in the bilateral defense relationship in a joint statement issued after their meeting at Mindef headquarters in Bukit Gombak.These include Singapore’s establishment of the multilateral Counter-Terrorism Information Facility, of which the US is a partner nation.
Singapore also joined the multinational Artificial Intelligence Partnership for Defence in May, which aims to enable multilateral cooperation and exchange of best practices on responsible AI in the defence sector, according to the joint statement.
“Secretary Austin and Dr. Ng expressed hope for further cooperation, including in areas such as cyber defence, strategic communications, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” it added.
The leaders looked forward to the continued resumption of physical interactions between the two defence establishments, after recent bilateral exercises such as Pacific Griffin in the waters off Guam which ended earlier this month.
Mr Austin said the US Department of Defence values Singapore’s training presence in the US, and both sides looked forward to new high-end bilateral training opportunities, as well as future cooperation as the US hosts Singapore’s future F-35B fighter aircraft detachment.
According to the statement, Dr. Ng thanked Mr. Austin for the US’ strong support in facilitating Singapore’s overseas training and exercises, which helps the Republic overcome its space constraints. US Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday also called on Dr. Ng on Tuesday. They discussed regional security developments and initiatives to continue strengthening mutual cooperation between the two navies. Admiral Gilday is in Singapore from Monday to Thursday for his introductory visit.