Singapore, US renew air and naval defence pacts

  • Singapore
  • Wednesday, 25 Sep 2019

Renewing ties: Trump and Lee after signing the defence agreement during a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. — AFP

NEW YORK/SINGAPORE : Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and US President Donald Trump renewed a key defence pact which allows American forces to use Singapore’s air and naval bases, extending it by another 15 years to 2035.

Both leaders lauded the close relationship between Singapore and the United States as they signed an amendment to the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore on Monday, a landmark agreement which underpinned America’s security presence in the region for almost 30 years.

Lee said in brief remarks before the signing: “It reflects our very good cooperation in defence matters between the United States and Singapore, and also the broader cooperation we have in so many other fields – in security, in economics, in counter-terrorism, and in culture and education as well.

“So we are very happy with our relationship,” he said at the Intercontinental New York Barclays hotel where the signing took place.

“We hope to grow it, and we hope that it will also be a means for the US to deepen its engagement in South-East Asia and Asia-Pacific region.”

Trump said the US was “close friends” with Singapore, and he and Lee had gotten to know each other very well.

“We have an extraordinary relationship with Singapore and with the Prime Minister,” he added.

The 1990 MOU was signed by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and then US Vice-President Dan Quayle, and was last renewed in 2005.

The agreement facilitates US forces’ access to Singapore’s air and naval bases and provides logistics support for its transiting personnel, aircraft and vessels.

Under it, the US has rotationally deployed fighter aircraft for exercises, refuelling and maintenance, as well as deployed its Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore since 2013 and P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft since 2015.

The renewal underscores support for the US presence in the region, which remains vital for regional peace, stability and prosperity, said the Ministry of Defence in a statement.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his US counterpart, Defence Secretary Mark Esper, acknowledged the “milestone renewal” of the 1990 MOU in an earlier phone call and reaffirmed the excellent and longstanding bilateral defence relationship, Mindef added.

They also reaffirmed the importance of the US’ continued engagement of the region. — The Straits Times/ANN

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