Singapore, US agree on importance of Covid-19 vaccine availability

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed on the importance of ensuring that vaccines will be made available globally, among other matters.
Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed on the importance of ensuring that vaccines will be made available globally, among other matters.PHOTOS: GAVIN FOO, AFP

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed on the importance of ensuring that Covid-19 vaccines be made available globally, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

In a statement on the phone call Dr Balakrishnan received from Mr Pompeo yesterday, MFA said they also discussed collaboration in the research and development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines, and the possibility of leveraging the strong US commercial presence in Singapore, including in pharmaceuticals, to this end.

Both sides also reaffirmed the excellent and longstanding ties between Singapore and the US, underpinned by strong economic, defence and security cooperation.

Dr Balakrishnan welcomed the US' sustained, constructive and stabilising presence in the region and its continued engagement and efforts to strengthen cooperation with regional partners and Asean, including to overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both sides also welcomed the new areas of bilateral cooperation in infrastructure and trade as well as Customs facilitation.

On developments in the South China Sea, Dr Balakrishnan re-affirmed Singapore's consistent and longstanding position that Singapore is not a claimant state and does not take sides on the competing territorial claims. Its key interest is in maintaining peace and stability in one of the world's busiest waterways, and Singapore upholds the right of all states to freedom of navigation and overflight, and supports the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, MFA added.

The US State Department said Mr Pompeo reiterated US support for South-east Asian states upholding their sovereign rights and interests under international law, and underscored US opposition to China's efforts to use coercion to push its South China Sea maritime claims.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2020, with the headline 'S'pore, US agree on importance of vaccine availability'. Print Edition | Subscribe