WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and United States Vice-President Kamala Harris reaffirmed the longstanding and robust partnership between Singapore and the US and discussed new areas of cooperation when they met on Tuesday (March 29).
Their bilateral meeting was part of a whirlwind day in Washington for PM Lee, who is in the US on a working visit ending Saturday. He met President Joe Biden for an hour on Tuesday morning.
PM Lee and Ms Harris, who met in Singapore in August last year when she made an official visit to the region, spoke warmly of the economic and security ties between their two countries.
They also followed up on projects in cyber security, space cooperation and other areas that Ms Harris had announced during her August trip to Singapore.
Ms Harris, who chairs the White House's National Space Council, noted that Singapore had on Monday signed the Artemis Accords, an American-led international agreement that sets out guidelines for responsible space exploration.
Singapore is the 18th country, and the first from South-east Asia, to join the agreement.
On Tuesday, both countries also announced the US-Singapore Cyber Dialogue, as well as an agreement to expand cooperation in infrastructure development.
Ms Harris said she and PM Lee also discussed the importance of collaboration on the issue of supply chains, and climate change.
America's commitment to the Asia-Pacific region was another theme of their remarks to reporters in the Vice-President's Ceremonial Office.
Said Ms Harris: "The United States is a proud member of the Indo-Pacific, and the relationship that we have with the nations in that region and with Singapore is an enduring relationship."
PM Lee said that the US has played an important and constructive role in the Asia-Pacific for nearly 80 years, and that Singapore has consistently supported its strong presence in the region through words and deeds.
Earlier, at a press conference with Mr Biden, he said that he had observed a broad consensus in the US on the direction of its Asia-Pacific policy and engagement in the region.
"I am quite convinced, having seen several administrations, that this one is completely focused on achieving something lasting in Asia," said PM Lee in response to a question.
"We in Singapore will do our best to help to make sure that their proposals work and will take root and will continue to grow for many years to come."
PM Lee will attend a dialogue at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank on Wednesday, before meeting US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
He will head to New York City later in the week, where he will meet United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres and other industry leaders.
Championing the rules-based international order
The US and Singapore also strongly defended the rules-based international order, in a lengthy joint leaders' statement released following Mr Biden and PM Lee's meeting on Tuesday.
Both countries share a respect for principles, including an adherence to international law, as well as others enshrined in the UN Charter such as a respect for sovereignty and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
These principles "have underpinned decades of unprecedented peace and stability as well as economic and social development, in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world", said the statement.
"The United States and Singapore recognise that threats to the UN Charter and rules-based international order anywhere, including Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine, place peace and prosperity everywhere at risk," it added.
The war in Ukraine, for instance, has had a negative impact on the Indo-Pacific region, the statement said. It also raised the situation in Myanmar following last year's military coup and its challenges to regional stability.
The US and Singapore are concerned that the crisis "has reversed years of economic progress in Myanmar and increased the risk of illicit finance", said the statement.
It also reaffirmed the US and Singapore's commitment to promoting broad-based economic growth in both countries and throughout the region.
On Tuesday, the two countries also announced new areas of collaboration under the US-Singapore Partnership for Growth and Innovation, which aims for inclusive growth in the digital economy and smart cities, energy and environmental technology, advanced manufacturing and supply chain resilience, and healthcare.
The US and Singapore will work together to develop interoperable artificial intelligence governance frameworks.
They will also plan for a US advanced manufacturing trade mission to Singapore and the region, and collaborate on cyber security best practices.