Forging good US-Russia ties 'not a simple matter'

The new United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The new United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. PHOTO: AFP

Good relations between new United States President Donald Trump and his Russian and Chinese counterparts will help the countries in establishing constructive ties.

This, in turn, would be a positive development for the world and also Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday in response to questions about Mr Trump during a dialogue.

While Mr Trump has expressed confidence in working well with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Lee said establishing a good relationship will not be easy.

He noted that previous US presidents have tried to do so, for instance by signalling a reset in relations. But despite their good intentions in doing so, they were stymied as the interests of both countries are not completely aligned, leading to difficulties in producing a win-win outcome.

"I hope Mr Trump will be able to do better, but it is not a simple matter," he said at the dialogue, hours before Mr Trump's inauguration as the 45th US president.

 
 

When asked if he was concerned about the US' commitment to the Asean region, Mr Lee said Singapore will have to look at the priorities and policies of the new US administration after it settles in.

But he noted that Singapore is familiar with US secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, as he was a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, which is heavily invested on Jurong Island.

Also, the US has many investments, projects, friends and interests in the region. "That is something which any US administration would have to pay attention to," Mr Lee said.

Chong Zi Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'Forging good US-Russia ties 'not a simple matter''. Print Edition | Subscribe