Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discuss Asean, Covid-19, Myanmar in phone call

A photo from 2016 showing Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington DC.
A photo from 2016 showing Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington DC.PHOTO: VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his US counterpart Antony Blinken discussed Asean cooperation, Covid-19, climate change and the Myanmar situation as they reaffirmed bilateral ties in a telephone call on Wednesday (Feb 10).

Dr Balakrishnan also congratulated Mr Blinken on his appointment as Secretary of State.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement: “They reaffirmed the excellent and longstanding relations between Singapore and the United States, and the strong and growing cooperation in defence and security, as well as in trade and investment.

“They also agreed to collaborate closely on the global response to Covid-19 and climate change.”

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Dr Balakrishnan said: “I’ve known Tony since his time as deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration, and am pleased for the opportunity to work with him again to further deepen the Singapore-US partnership.”

He welcomed the Biden administration’s efforts to engage with the region and strengthen cooperation with Asean and other regional partners.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a separate statement confirming the phone call: “Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Balakrishnan reflected on the enduring friendship and shared interests between our nations.

“Both emphasised the importance of the US-Singapore security and economic relationship and affirmed their desire to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including through Asean and other multilateral fora.”

They also exchanged views on regional developments, including the situation in Myanmar, the statements said.

Protests resumed on the streets of Myanmar for the fifth consecutive day on Wednesday despite a set of nationwide restrictions, including a curfew imposed by the military government from Monday night.

The US along with the United Nations had criticised the use of force against protesters, who had marched against the military’s seizure of power on Feb 1 from de factor leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party.