Virtual summit between Singapore PM Lee and Australian PM Morrison to cover digital economy, military training, coronavirus

A photo taken on June 7, 2019, shows Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a joint press conference at the Istana. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong will announce new initiatives on "the digital economy and military training" when they hold a virtual summit on Monday (March 23).

Mr Morrison said on Friday (March 20) that the summit will also focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

Both countries had "advanced, sophisticated and technology-enabled economies" and would try to work together to address the impacts of the outbreak, he added.

"We are both strongly committed to continuing the business of government at this time," he said in a statement.

"I look forward to discussing our countries' responses to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic - a global challenge that will only be addressed through countries working together."

The two leaders were due to meet in Canberra but switched their meeting to a video conference owing to the pandemic and Australia's travel restrictions.

Australia has imposed a 14-day self-isolation for anyone arriving in the country. The restriction took effect last Sunday.

Mr Morrison said Australia and Singapore are "bound together by shared values and common interests in regional resilience, stability and prosperity".

"My virtual summit with Prime Minister Lee will be an important opportunity to expand our cooperation and work to support an open, rules-based and prosperous global environment," he said.

Mr Morrison said they will announce new digital economy and military training initiatives but did not provide further details.

The two countries are implementing an A$2.25 billion (S$1.9 billion), 25-year military training deal, which will enable up to 14,000 Singapore Armed Forces personnel to train on upgraded training areas in north-east Australia for 18 weeks a year.

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