SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have sent congratulatory letters to United States President Joe Biden on his inauguration, wishing him success as he assumes office.
"Your decades of experience in public office will provide a stable, guiding hand during this critical juncture for America and the international community. I offer you my best wishes as you lead your country forward," said President Halimah in her letter, a copy of which was released by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Halimah wrote that Singapore and the US share a long, enduring friendship, and bilateral relations have continued to flourish over the years, adding: "Our multi-faceted ties span the defence and security, economic, and people-to-people spheres."
She noted that both countries' militaries share strong synergies, training together and taking part in regular exchanges, with Singapore hosting US aircraft and ships on rotational deployments since 1990.
The two countries also share a close economic relationship, built on the 2004 US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), that has grown from strength to strength, and expanded into new areas such as digital trade and infrastructure development, she added.
"I warmly recall meeting you during your visit to Singapore in July 2013, and hope to welcome you and your family back to Singapore again," she said.
Biden was then vice-president and Madam Halimah Speaker of Parliament, and they met at a working dinner Lee hosted for Biden.
Lee, in his letter, also released by MFA, noted that President Biden takes office at a time when many pressing challenges confront America and the rest of the world.
He said: "Strong American leadership will make a decisive difference to our collective recovery and the shape of the post-Covid-19 world."
Lee noted that Singapore has been a longstanding strategic, defence and economic partner of the US, with their excellent bilateral relations underpinned by the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement and 2004 US-Singapore FTA.
Both sides have steadily broadened cooperation into new areas, such as digital economy, data connectivity, cyber security, as well as infrastructure financing, he added.
"You can continue to rely on Singapore as a consistent and reliable friend and partner, as we advance our countries' shared interests and deal with common challenges," Lee wrote.
"There is a deep reservoir of goodwill for the US in our region, because of the vital role the United States has played anchoring regional stability and economic prosperity for over half a century," he added.
"I look forward to working with you to strengthen America's engagement of Asia and the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean)."
Lee also said he looked forward to meeting Mr Biden at the earliest opportunity in Singapore or Washington. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network