Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he is confident Singapore and Malaysia can work closely together to strengthen bilateral ties and regional cooperation, after meeting his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah yesterday.
Malaysia's newly minted Foreign Minister is in Singapore on a two-day introductory visit. Datuk Saifuddin called on President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong separately in the afternoon.
During the courtesy calls, President Halimah and PM Lee expressed Singapore's commitment to work with the new Malaysian government to strengthen bilateral relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement.
"Both sides reaffirmed the longstanding, extensive and mutually beneficial cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia, and looked forward to the continuing exchanges between ministers and officials on both sides," said MFA.
Madam Halimah said in a Facebook post: "His early visit is a testament to the close and longstanding relations between Singapore and Malaysia. I shared with Datuk Saifuddin that Singapore looks forward to working closely with the new Malaysian government to build ever closer ties for the benefit of our peoples."
During their meeting, Dr Balakrishnan and Mr Saifuddin reaffirmed their countries' strong relationship and discussed new ways to expand bilateral cooperation, said MFA.
"They exchanged views on developments in Asean and the region, as well as the importance of encouraging more inter-faith dialogue and understanding," it added.
Mr Saifuddin also expressed his country's support for Singapore's chairmanship of Asean this year.
Despite the potentially thorny issues on the bilateral agenda, both ministers were all smiles in the photographs posted by Dr Balakrishnan on Facebook.
"During our meeting, we took stock of the wide-ranging cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia, and exchanged ideas on new opportunities to work on together," said Dr Balakrishnan.
"I am confident we can work closely together on a forward-looking agenda to strengthen our bilateral ties and regional cooperation."
Malaysia's new Pakatan Harapan government, voted into power in the May 9 general election, is seeking to renegotiate a water agreement with Singapore and negotiate a deferment of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project.
Mr Saifuddin had said in an interview with The Straits Times last week that Malaysia will honour the water agreement while seeking to restart negotiations on pricing.
Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan hosted Mr Saifuddin and his wife Norlin Shamsul Bahri to lunch.
Mr Saifuddin will call on Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean today. He will also attend the Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting and related meetings later this week.