S'pore doing great things for peace: US

SINGAPORE is "doing great things" in the region and globally to help maintain peace and stability, something the United States is grateful for, said senior Pentagon official David Shear.

The strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and the US is also one bound by a "strong common interest", said Mr Shear, who is Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.

"It is a good, strong, healthy relationship with very good communication," he told The Straits Times.

Singapore, which pitched in for US-led peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013, will be deploying men and machines in the next few months to support a multinational fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terrorist group.

Mr Shear paid tribute to Singapore's participation in regional multilateral platforms that improve engagement and collaboration with its neigh-bours. These include the Shangri-La Dialogue and the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus grouping.

He also thanked Singapore for hosting the US littoral combat ships at Changi Naval Base since 2013 and the US Air Force's F-16 jets at Paya Lebar Air Base.

His comments come 25 years after Singapore and the US signed a memorandum of understanding to give American military aircraft and vessels access to facilities in Singapore.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of both countries inking the Strategic Framework Agreement to broaden mutual defence cooperation and facilitate the continued US presence in the region.

Singapore is also boosting military ties with China. Last year, both countries agreed to look into conducting bigger and more regular joint training exercises.

But Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said closer ties with China will not exclude other countries such as those in Asean, or the US.

Mr Shear, who met senior Singapore defence officials on the sidelines of a leading defence forum - the Fullerton Forum - in Singapore this week, said the US is not too worried about Asean nations forging closer ties with China.

"Individual Asean members have a complicated relationship with China, just like we do... that is every bit characterised by competition on the one hand and cooperation on the other."


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