SINGAPORE - Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen met with United States Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel on the sidelines of the 13th Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) today. Secretary Hagel also called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.
In a statement released today, Dr Ng and Secretary Hagel reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing defence relationship between Singapore and the United States, founded on shared strategic perspectives and the belief that a strong US presence in the Asia-Pacific is vital for regional security.
They noted the successful inaugural deployment of the US' first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USSFreedom, to Singapore in 2013, and anticipated the arrival of the USS Fort Worth later this year. They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation, and exchanged views on a wide range of regional and security issues.
Both sides welcomed multilateral fora such as the SLD and the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus, which provide key platforms for regional states to engage in dialogue and practical cooperation. Secretary Hagel is attending the SLD for the second time in his capacity as Secretary of Defence, and leads a delegation of senior US leaders and officials including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General (Gen) Martin Dempsey and Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Samuel Locklear. The Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Senator Benjamin Cardin, is also attending the SLD.
In addition, Gen Dempsey was conferred Singapore's highest military award, the Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Tentera) [Distinguished Service Order (Military)], by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, at the Istana earlier today, in recognition of his outstanding contributions towards enhancing the ties between the United States Armed Forces and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
Under his leadership, both armed forces have made significant progress in strengthening defence cooperation through high-end training and exercises across all services. Both armed forces also worked closely alongside each other in the multinational stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and continue their close cooperation in the ongoing international counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.