Chuck Hagel backs idea of crisis centre in S'pore

Chuck Hagel backs idea of crisis centre in S'pore
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at the opening plenary meeting at the 13th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, on May 31, 2014.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has reiterated his support for Singapore's proposal to host a crisis centre for the South-east Asia region.

Mr Hagel had met Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen last Friday on the sidelines of the 13th Shangri-La Dialogue.

During the forum, Mr Hagel urged the region to follow up on Singapore's suggestion of setting up a regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief coordination centre here. He said: "ASEAN member states should consider Singapore's offer to use Changi Naval Base as another regional command and control hub."

At the proposed centre, ASEAN countries can coordinate responses to disasters such as the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 or delivering aid to Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.

Dr Ng had made the suggestion of hosting the centre at a summit of defence ministers from ASEAN and the United States in April.

Yesterday, Dr Ng also met Chinese deputy chief of general staff Wang Guanzhong.

They discussed the regional security situation and expressed a common desire for regional peace and stability, and for tensions to be de-escalated.

Dr Ng also met his Indonesian counterpart Dr Purnomo Yusgiantoro.

They reaffirmed the close and long-standing defence relationship between Singapore and Indonesia, and agreed both sides should rebuild defence ties and continue military-to-military cooperation based on mutual trust and respect.

This article was first published on June 1, 2014.
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