WASHINGTON - Top United States officials reaffirmed the importance of their country's robust relationship with Singapore, especially against the background of America's engagement of the wider Asia-Pacific region, during meetings with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday.
Mr Lee met with US Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, while US President Barack Obama dropped by Mr Lee's meeting with Ms Rice.
Mr Lee and Mr Biden discussed ways to enhance the Singapore-US relationship and acknowledged the progress made on bilateral law enforcement and homeland security cooperation, according to a statement by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Both sides also observed that the Singapore-US Third Country Training Programme, under which the two countries jointly extend technical assistance to developing countries, has helped support the US' engagement efforts in Asia.
Meanwhile, Mr Lee welcomed Mr Obama and Mr Biden's "strong commitment to the Asia rebalance", the PMO statement added. Noting the benefits of the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, now in its 10th year, Mr Lee and Mr Biden agreed on the importance of successfully concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact.
In his meeting with Ms Rice, Mr Lee discussed ways in which the US' engagement of Asia could be enhanced - including through the TPP - given the strategic and economic importance of the region to the US.
Also on Wednesday, Mr Lee met with US lawmakers Randy Forbes and Colleen Hanabusa of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. They had an extensive discussion on regional strategic and security issues, and reaffirmed the need for a robust and holistic US presence in the Asia-Pacific, the PMO said.
Mr Lee rounded off his afternoon of meetings with a tea hosted by Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), together with other SRFC senators Robert Corker, Benjamin Cardin and Marco Rubio. Mr Cardin is chairman of the SFRC Sub-Committee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
Mr Lee exchanged views with the SFRC on international and regional developments, including the US' engagement of Asia and particularly Southeast Asia, and discussed the importance of the TPP to the US' involvement in the region, the PMO said.
Mr Lee left Washington DC on Wednesday evening for New York, where he will launch Temasek Holdings' new office on Thursday.