Ong Ye Kung reaffirms close bilateral ties in talks with Australian ministers

Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung shake hands with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop prior to their breakfast meeting.
Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung shake hands with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop prior to their breakfast meeting.PHOTO: MINDEF
Mr Ong and his wife, Mrs Diana Ong, observing a moment of silence after laying a wreath at the Australian War Memorial.
Mr Ong and his wife, Mrs Diana Ong, observing a moment of silence after laying a wreath at the Australian War Memorial.PHOTO: MINDEF

SYDNEY - Singapore's Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung and Australia's defence and foreign affairs ministers have reaffirmed the close ties between the two countries and discussed regional and global security issues. 

Mr Ong met Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop on Tuesday (Oct 10) in Canberra.

"During their meeting, both ministers reaffirmed the excellent relations between both countries, and discussed a wide range of geopolitical and security issues," said a statement released on Wednesday by Singapore's Ministry of Defence.

Mr Ong also visited the Australian War Memorial and laid a wreath in honour of Australian soldiers who died in war, including during the defence of Singapore in World War II.

In Sydney on Tuesday night, he attended a dinner hosted by Defence Minister Marise Payne.

"Mr Ong and Ms Payne reaffirmed the close and longstanding bilateral defence relations between Singapore and Australia, and discussed regional and global security issues of mutual interest," the Mindef statement said.

Mr Ong, who is also Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), had a video teleconference with Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham on Wednesday.

He visited the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's digital and data innovation group. He also met with the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development and Tourism Anthony Albanese.

Mr Ong's six-day visit to Australia began on Saturday. He is scheduled to depart on Thursday.

During his trip, the minister also visited the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training in Exercise Wallaby 2017 at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland. The area is due to be upgraded to allow expanded training by Singaporean troops at the facility.

While visiting SAF troops in Queensland on Monday, Mr Ong said safety remained paramount even as the troops engaged in difficult and realistic training. 

He was speaking almost a month after the death of Third Sergeant (3SG) Gavin Chan, who died after his Bionix infantry fighting vehicle turned on its side during an earlier phase of Exercise Wallaby.

Visiting the exercise for the first time, Mr Ong said there was "a very strong determination, commitment and professionalism to carry out these exercises effectively and successfully".

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