Singapore, Indonesia defence ministers reaffirm ties, cooperation: Mindef

In this photo from November 2019, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (left) meets Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto on the sidelines of the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting Retreat in Bangkok. PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his Indonesian counterpart Prabowo Subianto spoke on the phone on Thursday (June 3), reaffirming the close and longstanding bilateral defence relationship between the two countries, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

During the call, the ministers exchanged views on regional security challenges and discussed ways to support each other, as well as strengthen bilateral defence cooperation amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mindef in its statement.

This includes cooperation in areas such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maritime security.

Dr Ng thanked Mr Prabowo for strongly supporting the Shangri-La Dialogue - even though it could not be held this year - and invited him to visit Singapore when the regional Covid-19 situation improves, said Mindef.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual regional security summit that was scheduled for June 4 to 5 in Singapore, was cancelled two weeks ago due to a deterioration in the global coronavirus situation.

Both ministers will attend the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and ADMM-Plus, which will be held virtually later this month.

Mindef said Singapore and Indonesia share close and longstanding ties: "Both defence establishments have enjoyed decades of close friendship and continue to deepen their cooperation to tackle common regional security challenges."

Dr Ng's call with Mr Prabowo came two days after he spoke with Malaysian Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Dr Ng and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri, who is also Senior Minister for the Security Cluster, had reaffirmed their commitment to dialogue and engagement to ensure peace and stability in the region and to strengthen bilateral cooperation amid the pandemic, said Mindef in a statement on Tuesday.

Dr Ng had thanked Minister Ismail Sabri for his strong support for the Shangri-La Dialogue and expressed regret that Mr Ismail Sabri was not able to conduct his introductory visit in person as planned.

Mindef said the ministers exchanged views on the Covid-19 situation in both countries, discussed ways to support each other, and expressed their support for both countries amid challenging and uncertain times.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Dr Ng said he had offered some medical equipment to the Malaysian Armed Forces "to assist them in the difficult month ahead".

Malaysia started a two-week lockdown on Tuesday to stem surging Covid-19 infections recorded in recent weeks.

Mindef said that the call highlighted the warm and longstanding bilateral defence ties between Singapore and Malaysia.

The two countries' defence establishments interact regularly across a wide range of activities such as visits and exchanges, exercises, and cross-attendance of courses, it added.

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