PM Lee Hsien Loong meets Vietnam leader Pham Minh Chinh ahead of summit

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) meets Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Washington on May 12, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Minh Chinh in Washington on Thursday (May 12), ahead of the Asean-United States Special Summit.

Both leaders reaffirmed the excellent bilateral relations between their two countries.

They also looked forward to commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as well as the 10th anniversary of the Strategic Partnership between Singapore and Vietnam next year, said PM Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin in a statement.

They also discussed possible areas to further enhance bilateral cooperation, she added.

PM Lee, who is in Washington until Saturday, also congratulated Mr Chinh on the successful opening ceremony of the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi.

Both prime ministers and their fellow Asean leaders will be hosted to lunch on Thursday with American congressional leaders by US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at Capitol Hill.

A senior US administration official told reporters on Wednesday: "For many years, one of the most important areas of engagement for Capitol Hill was in South-east Asia, and that continues... It is important that the leaders from the region see the bipartisan commitment to the Indo-Pacific that we certainly have seen over the course of the last year and half."

The Asean leaders will then meet senior American business leaders, as well as US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, to discuss ways of strengthening economic cooperation.

"The desire is to have these senior business leaders from across the United States engage and think about how to engage more directly going forward, given the dynamism in the region as a whole," said the US official.

In the evening, the Asean leaders will be received by President Joe Biden at the White House, where they will take a commemorative photo and be hosted to dinner.

On Wednesday, PM Lee visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre aviation museum in Fairfax, Virginia, which houses iconic aircraft and spacecraft such as the space shuttle Discovery and the Enola Gay that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

The prime minister, who made a working visit to Washington in March, noted that Singapore had signed the Artemis Accords then, becoming the 18th country to do so. The US-led international agreement establishes principles for the peaceful and sustainable exploration of space. Colombia signed the accords on Tuesday, bringing the total number of countries to 19.

"The space sector has untold potential and possibilities. Many space technologies have found applications here on earth, like the GPS in our smartphones and cars," PM Lee wrote in a Facebook post.

He noted that while Singapore may not be a space-faring nation, it is conducting research and development in space-related capabilities to support key pillars of the economy, including the aviation and maritime sectors.

"I hope future breakthroughs will one day help us solve pressing challenges like climate change, and improve lives," he added.

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