Ng Eng Hen, US Defence Secretary James Mattis reaffirm bilateral defence ties between Singapore and the US

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (left) had his first meeting with United States Defence Secretary James Mattis on Saturday (Feb 18), on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (left) had his first meeting with United States Defence Secretary James Mattis on Saturday (Feb 18), on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.PHOTO: ST FILE, AFP

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen had his first meeting with United States Defence Secretary James Mattis on Saturday (Feb 18), on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

They reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral defence relationship between their countries.

During the bilateral meeting, Mr Mattis expressed appreciation for Singapore’s insights into regional security issues, support for the US’ presence in the Asia-Pacific, and contributions to the US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Singapore was the first South-east Asian nation to join the coalition. Since the coalition began operations in 2014, ISIS has lost over half its territory in Iraq and a quarter in Syria.

Dr Ng said he had worked closely with Mr Mattis’ predecessors, and looked forward to working with him to further bilateral cooperation between both defence establishments.

Mr Mattis and Dr Ng also discussed the new US administration's foreign policy and security priorities, particularly the importance of the US’ engagement of the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr Ng was appreciative that Mr Mattis, despite his busy schedule at the conference, had made time  for the meeting.

"I was very happy that Secretary Mattis could find time in this Munich Security Conference to meet. Obviously, as the new Secretary of Defense, many security leaders around the world ask (him) for meetings because he is new and they want a first-hand assessment of the thinking of the US (United States) Department of Defense’s directions and leadership under Secretary Mattis. So, I express my appreciation that he made time," Dr Ng said.

"I invited him, of course, to the Shangri-La Dialogue. He said that he would come, so we are looking forward to his presence at the Shangri-La Dialogue," he added.

Dr Ng is in Germany until Sunday for the Munich Security Conference, which has been held each year since 1963.

This is the sixth time he is attending the conference, which brings together key foreign affairs and defence leaders.

This year’s conference, the 53rd edition, will be attended by heads of government, defence and foreign ministers, parliamentarians, military leaders and security experts