PM Lee meets Defence Secretary Hagel

Washington - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong began his four-day visit to the United States on Monday with a lunch at the Pentagon hosted by US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel. The two exchanged views on developments in the region, and PM Lee shared his thoughts on how countries can work together to peacefully resolve the territorial issues in the East and South China Seas, according to statements from the US and Singapore.Mr Hagel also thanked PM Lee for Singapore hosting up to four Littoral Combat Ships on a rotational basis.The first ship, the USS Freedom, is expected to arrive in Singapore later this month.Both leaders also reaffirmed the importance of a sustained US presence in the Asia-Pacific, which has served to enhance regional stability and prosperity.The lunch was also attended by Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, Foreign Minister K Shanmugam, Singapore Ambassador to the US Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, and MPs Intan Azura Mokhtar and Desmond Lee.On Tuesday, PM Lee will be hosted by President Barack Obama at the official Oval Office, where they are expected to discuss economic and strategic issues over free trade agreements and ongoing tensions in the South China Sea.