Defence minister Ng Eng Hen meets US counterpart at Pentagon

SINGAPORE - Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen met his United States counterpart, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Washington, DC on Thursday.

They discussed ways to address regional tensions and how partners can enhance cooperation and build mutual confidence. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of a strong US presence in the Asia-Pacific to enhance regional stability and security.

Dr Ng and Secretary Hagel also released a joint statement underscoring the long-standing bilateral defence relationship between the two nations, as well as the good progress of cooperative initiatives such as the rotational deployment of the USN's Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore.

"I welcome Secretary Hagel's reassurance and reaffirmation of America's commitment to the Asia Pacific," said Dr Ng at a joint press conference. "Singapore has been explicit in our position that America's presence in the Asia Pacific in the last 50 years has been a critical force for stability and progress for many of the emerging economies."

Secretary Hagel said that the US will stand by its allies and partners in the Asia Pacific.

"The US remains committed to the re-balance of the Asia Pacific in every way and to our important partnership with Singapore. I look forward to continuing to work with Dr Ng to advance our friendship, our common interests and ensure a more secure and prosperous future for both of our nations in the Asia Pacific," he said.

Singapore and the US signed the Strategic Framework Agreement in 2005. This provided the foundation for broad-based defence cooperation between the two nations. Since then, both militaries have interacted regularly through joint exercises, operations, training and technological collaborations.

Prior to his meeting with Secretary Hagel, Dr Ng had visited Exercise Forging Sabre in Phoenix, Arizona, where he witnessed an integrated live firing and the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Republic of Singapore Air Forces' Peace Carvin II F-16 detachment.

Later today, Dr Ng will meet with Senator John McCain, National Security Advisor Dr Susan Rice, and Former US Ambassador to Singapore Jon Huntsman. He will also deliver a speech at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.