DPM Teo Chee Hean visits Philippines, calls on Vice-President Leni Robredo

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Philippine Vice-President Leni Robredo reaffirmed the warm and longstanding ties between Singapore and the Philippines. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

MANILA - Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean called on Philippine Vice-President Leni Robredo on Thursday (Feb 1) as part of his three-day visit to the Philippines this week.

DPM Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, began his visit to the Philippines on Wednesday.

At Thursday's meeting, DPM Teo and Ms Robredo, reaffirmed the warm and longstanding ties between Singapore and the Philippines, which are underpinned by robust economic links and people-to-people relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

DPM Teo and Ms Robredo exchanged views on socio-economic development including housing and education policies, and ways to promote sustainable and inclusive growth in the two countries.

Mr Teo also had meetings with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, as well as Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Interior and Local Government General Eduardo Año.

At the meetings, they updated DPM Teo and the Singapore delegation on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City in Mindanao, and the security situation in the Philippines.

Both sides exchanged views on regional security matters including the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group and discussed ways to enhance the defence and security cooperation between Singapore and the Philippines.

Mr Teo also underscored Singapore's commitment to work with the Philippines in bilateral and multilateral counter-terrorism efforts, including exchanging best practices on counter-radicalisation and religious rehabilitation, the ministry said.

In addition, Mr Teo met former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, old friends and former counterparts, as well as key business leaders to discuss developments in the Philippines along with regional and international issues.

Mr Teo also had an early Lunar New Year "lo hei" celebration with about 100 Singaporeans and their families based in Manila.

On Friday, Mr Teo and the delegation will visit New Clark City - a smart, green city that is being developed north of Manila - and meet Singapore companies in Clark before returning to Singapore.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman is in the Australian city of Perth for two days to attend the Sub-Regional Defence Ministers' Meeting on Counter-Terrorism, the Ministry of Defence said.

Taking place from Thursday to Friday, the inaugural meeting is hosted by Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne and involves seven countries, including Singapore, Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

As part of his visit, Dr Maliki met with Ms Payne on Thursday to discuss the growing regional terrorism threat.

The ministers agreed on the importance of regional cooperation on counter-terrorism through platforms such as the Perth meeting and Singapore's Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus Chairmanship this year.

Australia, meanwhile, expressed its support for counter-terrorism focus areas such as chemical, biological and radiological defence, and the rehabilitation of extremists.

Both ministers also emphasised the close and long-standing defence relationship between the two countries and the history of military cooperation between both armed forces, including the Singapore Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force's joint deployments in the Middle East as part of the Defeat-ISIS coalition.

They also reaffirmed the value of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership pact between both countries and agreed to continue furthering defence cooperation. Signed in 2015, the pact is aimed at deepening existing areas of cooperation such as in cultural, economic, political and security matters, as well as paving the way for new ones.

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