Singapore military to continue supporting global anti-ISIS effort beyond 2018: Ng Eng Hen

Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and his American counterpart James Mattis (right) discussed strategies for dealing with the growing threat of terrorism. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA - Singapore on Tuesday (Oct 24) affirmed its commitment to extend its contributions to the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) "for 2018 and beyond".

In bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting at the Clark freeport in the north of Manila, Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen told his counterpart, US Defence Secretary James Mattis, that Singapore would continue to contribute a KC-135R tanker aircraft, an imagery analysis team, and a medical team next year (2018) to the effort.

"As Prime Minister Lee (Hsien Loong) announced, we agreed to extend our deployments beyond 2018," Dr Ng told reporters. He said the US requested that Singapore extend its deployment beyond 2018.

"The first part of the campaign has succeeded. But we agreed with the US and the coalition partners that we shouldn't let up, that we have gained so much because of the concerted effort," said Dr Ng.

The two defence chiefs' meeting comes a day after Prime Minister Lee met US President Donald Trump at the White House, where Mr Lee told Mr Trump that Singapore will extend its existing deployment of military assets and personnel to the global coalition to defeat ISIS.

A statement by the Singapore Defence Ministry said the two had discussed strategies in dealing with the growing threat of terrorism, especially in Southeast Asia.

Noting the US' offer to support regional counter-terrorism efforts raised at the Asean-US Defence Ministers' Informal Meeting on Monday (Oct 23), Dr Ng said that Singapore will facilitate these initiatives as Asean Chair next year.

Since the 2015 enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement concluded, Singapore and the US have continued their interactions and exchanges, from military exercises to cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism and cyber defence.

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