Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds calls on Ng Eng Hen, affirms defence ties

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

SINGAPORE - Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds met her Singapore counterpart Ng Eng Hen on Tuesday (Oct 20), 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 the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) in a statement on Tuesday.

It added that her visit was a key milestone in the lead-up to the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces' 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 is scheduled to meet 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.

"I look forward to deepening the strong cooperation between our countries," he wrote.

Ms Reynolds and Dr Ng reaffirmed both countries' 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.

The Australian minister is on a trip to Asia, which also 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 was also scheduled to visit Sembawang Air Base on Tuesday to take a familiarisation flight on board a Republic of Singapore Air Force Super Puma helicopter.

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

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Australian Defence Force have a long history of military cooperation, with extensive interactions including bilateral and multilateral training exercises, visits, professional exchanges, cross attendance of courses and joint operational deployments, it added.