US and Singapore defence chiefs urge dialogue to ease tensions in Asia

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (right) and his American counterpart Chuck Hagel have reiterated their commitment to promoting stability in the region, adding that they saw dialogue as a critical part of the solution. -- ST PHOTO: MELISSA SIM
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (right) and his American counterpart Chuck Hagel have reiterated their commitment to promoting stability in the region, adding that they saw dialogue as a critical part of the solution. -- ST PHOTO: MELISSA SIM

WASHINGTON - Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his American counterpart Chuck Hagel have reiterated their commitment to promoting stability in the region, adding that they saw dialogue as a critical part of the solution.

Speaking at a joint press conference after a morning meeting at the Pentagon, both leaders said they needed to work together to ensure tempers do not boil over in Asia Pacific.

Mr Hagel shared "deep concern" about China's recent announcement and added that increased dialogue was an important way to deal with the security issues in Asia Pacific.

Dr Ng reiterated Singapore's position that it welcomes a US presence in the region and said he was cheered that by remarks from Chinese and American leaders stating that there is room for both a resident power and a rising power in Asia.

"We need to use the platforms to reduce the risk of miscalculation and make sure we don't precipitate tensions," said Dr Ng.

In a joint statement released by the US Department of Defence and the Singapore Ministry of Defence, Mr Hagel and Dr Ng "recognised the importance of the Shangri-La Dialogue and the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) which respectively foster dialogue and practical cooperation among regional countries."

Responding to a question on Singapore's interest in buying F-35 fighters from America, Dr Ng said Singapore is still "seriously considering" the purchase.