Australian Defence Minister calls on Singapore leaders

The defence ministers met at Mindef headquarters where they discussed regional and international security developments on Oct 20, 2020.
The defence ministers met at Mindef headquarters where they discussed regional and international security developments on Oct 20, 2020.PHOTO: GOV.SG

Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds met her Singapore counterpart Ng Eng Hen yesterday and reaffirmed the close and longstanding defence relations between the two countries.

They met at Mindef headquarters where they discussed regional and international security developments, including the importance of enhancing regional counter-terrorism cooperation, said a Ministry of Defence statement yesterday.

It added that Ms Reynolds' visit was a key milestone in the lead-up to the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) training in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia. This is scheduled to take place later this year.

Ms Reynolds also called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during her one-day introductory visit to Singapore.

In a Facebook post after their meeting, PM Lee said he had a good discussion with Ms Reynolds on regional and international security challenges, and how to address them together.

Ms Reynolds and Dr Ng reaffirmed the deepening defence cooperation under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and welcomed the steady progress made in the joint development of training areas and advanced training facilities in Queensland, said Mindef.

The joint development is made under the treaty-level Agreement Concerning Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia, which both ministers signed in March this year.

The two leaders also reaffirmed the value of key security platforms such as the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus and the Five Power Defence Arrangements in addressing security challenges, and agreed to continue the strong cooperation via these platforms.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Dr Ng wrote that Australia is one of Singapore's closest defence partners.

"It's no wonder that each time we meet, our discussions are rich and productive on a wide range of security challenges, and there is a meeting of minds in our approach to regional peace and stability," he wrote.

The Australian minister is on a trip to Asia which includes visits to Japan, Brunei and the Philippines.

In a statement last week, she wrote that on the agenda for her Singapore visit was reviewing the two countries' substantial defence engagement, which has continued during the pandemic.

"My visit will provide an important opportunity to mark the 30th anniversary of Singapore's military training in Australia," she wrote.

She also visited Sembawang Air Base yesterday for a familiarisation flight in a Republic of Singapore Air Force Super Puma helicopter.

Health checks and safety measures were taken by the visiting delegation, said Mindef.

The SAF and the Australian Defence Force have a long history of military cooperation, with extensive interactions such as bilateral and multilateral training exercises and professional exchanges, it added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2020, with the headline 'Australian Defence Minister calls on Singapore leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe