Singapore leaders, including PM Lee, congratulate Biden and Harris on US election win

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Mr Joe Biden at the Istana in 2013, when Mr Biden was US Vice-President. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat have sent their congratulations to newly elected leaders in the United States.

President Halimah congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris on their "victory in a hard fought election".

She called Mr Biden, who will be the 46th US president, a "good friend of Singapore" and noted the strong partnership between both nations in the areas of "defence and security, economic and people-to-people ties".

President Halimah's Facebook post also congratulated Ms Harris, noting that she was "heartened" at her becoming "America's first female, black and South Asian Vice-President".

"This is the historic moment for women minorities in the US and around the world. Vice-President-elect Harris has shown that one should never be constrained by glass ceilings."

President Halimah called Ms Harris an inspiration to many young women around the world, saying: "Throughout her long and distinguished career in public office, she was not afraid of breaking barriers, achieving many 'firsts' along the way.

"This latest appointment caps a high point for her. Yet she is humble and often attributes her success to the hard work of those who came before her."

In separate notes to Mr Biden and Ms Harris, PM Lee also affirmed the shared interests and "longstanding, multifaceted and robust partnership" that the US had with Singapore.

"(Many) countries are also looking forward to the global leadership of the United States under your Administration as we work together to overcome the significant challenges facing the world, especially the immediate crisis brought by the Covid-19 pandemic," he wrote to Mr Biden.

"Significant strides were made in our relationship during your tenure as vice-president, including the United States' entry to the East Asia Summit and the appointment of its first ambassador to Asean."

PM Lee also noted that Mr Biden, who was vice-president during Mr Barack Obama's presidency and a former senator, would already be familiar with the relationship that the two nations shared.

PM Lee also highlighted the strong economic ties the two countries had, with the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, as well as Singapore's status as the US's largest trading partner for South-east Asia and its third largest Asian investor last year (2019).

He also noted the close partnership in the area of security with Singapore as the US' only Major Security Cooperation Partner and the recently renewed 1990 memorandum of understanding that allows the US use of Singapore's military facilities.

"(This) underscores our support for the US's presence, which remains vital for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific," said PM Lee.

He recalled Mr Biden's visit to Singapore in 2013 and a 2016 lunch meeting in Washington, DC, where the two leaders met, adding that he hopes to work with Mr Biden to deepen their partnership. "You can continue to count on Singapore as a friend and partner," he added.

In a separate letter to Ms Harris, PM Lee spoke about the "robust and enduring friendship that has deepened over the decade" for Singapore and the US.

He said: "I very much look forward to working with you and President-elect Biden to strengthen and expand our bilateral cooperation, and to welcoming you to Singapore for a first official visit at a time of your convenience."

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat also congratulated the Vice President-elect on the victory that "comes at a critical juncture" adding that he was confident that the US would exercise its global leadership role to seek "collective solutions to the pandemic".

He said to Ms Harris: "I look forward to meeting you in the near future to discuss how both sides can enhance bilateral cooperation and strengthen the United States' engagement of the Asia-Pacific."

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