Vivian Balakrishnan visits Brunei to reaffirm close ties, will also visit Malaysia and Indonesia

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) talking to Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in Brunei on March 22, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan visited Brunei on Monday (March 22), and reaffirmed the close and longstanding special relationship between Singapore and the country.

During his visit, Dr Balakrishnan had an audience with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on Monday.

Dr Balakrishan reaffirmed the special and unique relationship between Singapore and Brunei, including the two countries' strong defence ties, the Currency Interchangeability Agreement established since 1967, and long-standing healthcare cooperation.

He also conveyed an invitation from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to the Sultan to visit Singapore soon.

He also met and was hosted to a meal by Brunei's Second Foreign Minister Erywan Pehin Yusof. Brunei is the current chair of the Association of South-east Asian Nations, or Asean.

They discussed Asean's role in regional cooperation under Brunei's Chairmanship. They agreed that the ongoing situation in Myanmar was of deep concern, and they urged all sides in Myanmar to seek a peaceful solution through constructive dialogue.

They also discussed Asean's support for Myanmar's return to the path of national reconciliation, peace and stability.

Dr Balakrishnan returns to Singapore on Monday, said MFA. He will travel to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Malaysia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein will host Dr Balakrishnan on a two-day working visit from Tuesday to Wednesday.

It added that the visit is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen existing close ties between Malaysia and Singapore.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin and Dr Balakrishnan are expected to discuss issues of common interest to both countries in the context of bilateral cooperation, as well as regional and international issues, the statement said.

Both ministers "will also explore post-Covid-19 collaboration, including reciprocal vaccination certification, which will benefit both the nations", it added.

Dr Balakrishnan is also scheduled to call on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and hold meetings with several other ministers, including Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali, Senior Minister of Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin.

"The visit will be conducted in full compliance with the health and safety protocols set by the Ministry of Health and in accordance with the standard operating procedures approved by the National Security Council," the statement added.

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