SINGAPORE - United States Defence Secretary James Mattis on Friday (June 1) reaffirmed the country's strong commitment to regional engagement in a series of meetings on the sidelines of the 17th Shangri-La Dialogue.
Mr Mattis started his day with breakfast hosted by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, where he acknowledged the important role that Asean has to play as part of the US' vision for a "free and open Indo-Pacific".
The pair reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral defence relations between Singapore and the US, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a press release.
They also discussed key geopolitical developments, including the situation on the Korean peninsula and the terrorism threat in South-east Asia.
Mr Mattis, who is in Singapore with a delegation of senior US officials including Secretary of Navy Richard Spencer and Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Philip Davidson, then co-chaired with Dr Ng an informal meeting with the South-east Asian Defence Ministers.
He said the US would continue to engage Asean and its member states, and to play a strong role in the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus.
During the meeting, Dr Ng also expressed his strong support for practical cooperation between Asean member states and US' militaries.
In the light of the recent terrorist attacks in France and Indonesia, the ministers also discussed the increasing terrorist threat, particularly the threat posed by returning foreign fighters to the region.
Mr Mattis then called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana, where Mindef said they reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral relations between Singapore and the US.
"PM Lee and Secretary Mattis also discussed regional security developments and both reiterated the importance of the US' continued engagement of the Asia-Pacific," Mindef added.