WASHINGTON: It is “critical” for the United States to stay involved and engaged in the Asia-Pacific, while developing and growing its economic ties with the region, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (Mar 30) as he attended a bipartisan leadership meeting at the Capitol in Washington.
Delivering brief remarks at the start of the meeting, Mr Lee, accompanied by US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, pointed to America’s Indo-Pacific Economic Strategy and in particular, the forthcoming Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
“We hope to see this bear fruit in years to come,” said the Prime Minister, who is on a working visit to the US until Apr 2.
He also said that security of the Asia Pacific is “vital to the stability and prosperity” of the region, and the US is “a big part of this story”.
Mr Lee noted that Singapore and the US share a “strong and enduring partnership”, as well as a “mutually beneficial” one, which stretches across many areas such as economic and security.
Singapore is also “very grateful for the longstanding bipartisan support” from the US Congress, he added, citing how the National Defense Authorization Act has named Singapore as a major security cooperation partner of the US.
“We look forward, however, to continue to develop and grow the relationship and to explore new areas of cooperation,” said the Prime Minister.
These new areas include climate change, cybersecurity, infrastructure development and in particular sustainable infrastructure projects, as well as partnerships relating to growth and innovation.
Ms Pelosi, who is scheduled to visit Singapore soon, said the US-Singapore bond is “a very important one”.
“And so we look forward to our discussion about our mutual security, about our economic opportunities and development, and … how we address the climate crisis …in a rules based order, (and) the Indo-Pacific relationship,” she added.
A dozen US lawmakers from both parties, such as House majority leader Steny Hoyer, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, attended the meeting on Wednesday.
A statement issued by Mr Lee’s press secretary Chang Li Lin after the meeting read: “The Members of Congress expressed strong support for the robust and multifaceted bilateral relationship between Singapore and the US.
“They also reaffirmed Singapore’s unique status as the US’s only major security cooperation partner.”
At the meeting, Mr Lee and the US lawmakers also exchanged views on international and regional developments, including the war in Ukraine.
“Both sides agreed on the importance of a stable, rules-based international order,” said Ms Chang.
Later in the day, the Prime Minister met US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the Four Seasons hotel in Washington.
Ms Chang, in a separate statement, said Mr Lee had a “wide-ranging discussion” with Mr Sullivan on bilateral relations, regional and international developments, including the crisis in Ukraine.
“PM Lee welcomed the US commitment to strengthen its engagement of the region and ASEAN, including through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. PM Lee looked forward to the upcoming ASEAN-US Summit to be hosted by President Biden in Washington DC,” she added.
Mr Lee also had a separate meeting with Mr Jerome Powell, Chair “pro tempore” of the US Federal Reserve, on Wednesday afternoon, capping off his visit to Washington where he met US President Joe Biden, US Vice-President Kamala Harris and other US officials.
He will next travel to New York, where he will meet United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as well as industry and financial sector leaders.