US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin meets Ng Eng Hen on sidelines of Shangri-La Dialogue

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) and Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2022 on June 10, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met his counterpart, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in Singapore on Friday (June 10), where they discussed ways to further strengthen defence cooperation, including in cyberspace.

The two leaders reaffirmed the excellent bilateral defence relationship and the mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries during a bilateral call at the Shangri-La Hotel, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

Mr Austin, a retired four-star general, is in Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue - an annual high-level defence summit taking place from Friday to Sunday - where he is expected to deliver a major speech on US defence policy in the Indo-Pacific.

The dialogue is being held as a fully in-person event for the first time in three years.

This is Mr Austin's fourth trip to the region in his current role. He is slated to meet Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, although no details have been announced.

Mr Austin will also call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his visit.

During their meeting on Friday, Mr Austin and Dr Ng discussed ways to further strengthen defence cooperation between Singapore and the US, such as in the area of cyber defence, said Mindef.

This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in August last year institutionalising cyber cooperation between the two defence establishments.

Dr Ng expressed appreciation for the US' strong support for Singapore Armed Forces training in the US, including the US' support for the Republic of Singapore Air Force's acquisition and operationalisation of the F-35B fighter jets.

Mr Austin reaffirmed the US' commitment to engage the Asia-Pacific region and play a strong role in the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus.

He expressed appreciation for Singapore's support for the US' regional presence, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both ministers also affirmed the need for stable defence relations in the region, as well as for regional countries to work collectively for security and prosperity, said Mindef.

The Singapore-US defence relationship is anchored by three pacts signed since 1990, said Mindef.

These are the 1990 MOU Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore, which was renewed in 2019; the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement; and the 2015 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.