TPP is 'vital to US involvement in Asia': PM Lee

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, behind Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's hotel. -- PHOTO: MCI
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, behind Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's hotel. -- PHOTO: MCI
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited along with MPs Janil Puthucheary and Charles Chong. -- PHOTO: MCI
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited along with MPs Janil Puthucheary and Charles Chong. -- PHOTO: MCI
Visitors to the FDR Memorial pose for a photo with the sculpture of a unemployed people queuing up for dole during the Great Depression. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited the landmark while on a visit to the US. -- PHOTO: MCI
Visitors to the FDR Memorial pose for a photo with the sculpture of a unemployed people queuing up for dole during the Great Depression. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited the landmark while on a visit to the US. -- PHOTO: MCI
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong calls on US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker (in white). -- PHOTO: MCI
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong calls on US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker (in white). -- PHOTO: MCI
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meets several US Republicans. PHOTO: MCI
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meets several US Republicans. PHOTO: MCI
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. -- PHOTO: MCI
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. -- PHOTO: MCI
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. -- PHOTO: MCI
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. -- PHOTO: MCI
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attends an on-the-record moderated interview with Council on Foreign Relations moderated by ambassador J. Stapleton Roy and participates in a Q&A with the audience at the Council on Foreign Relations, in W
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attends an on-the-record moderated interview with Council on Foreign Relations moderated by ambassador J. Stapleton Roy and participates in a Q&A with the audience at the Council on Foreign Relations, in Washington DC, USA, on Jun 24, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a vital component of the United States' continued involvement in a rapidly shifting Asia, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday.

In a dialogue hosted by US think tank Council on Foreign Relations, Mr Lee reiterated the importance of the wide-ranging free trade pact in underpinning America's rebalancing towards Asia, which US President Barack Obama has made a key pillar of US foreign policy.

Asia "is changing, China is growing, developing, becoming more influential and will become more so by the day," Mr Lee told a 145-strong audience of diplomats, academics and journalists. "It is a region where things are moving and which America is part of and has to engage in actively."

Even as the US currently grapples with foreign policy issues elsewhere - including unfolding crises in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine - Mr Lee said he hoped the TPP, a "serious measure which shows the seriousness" of America's engagement with Asia, remains on the US agenda.

"You have many other issues on your agenda – Iraq preoccupies you, so does Iran, so does Syria, so does Eastern Europe and Ukraine," Mr Lee said at the dialogue.

"But we hope amidst all that... you remember at least once a day that in Asia you have many friends, many interests and many investments," he added. "We hope to deepen that relationship."

Mr Lee also met with US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz on Tuesday, where they discussed global energy trends and developments as well as ways to strengthen bilateral energy cooperation, including addressing climate change.

fiochan@sph.com.sg