Singapore, US renew key defence pact till 2035
PM Lee says agreement reflects the close relationship between two countries
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and US President Donald Trump have renewed a key defence pact which allows American forces to use Singapore's air and naval bases, extending it by another 15 years to 2035.
Both leaders lauded the close relationship between Singapore and the US as they signed an amendment to the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore, a landmark agreement which underpinned America's security presence in the region for almost 30 years.
PM Lee said before the signing on Monday: "It reflects our very good cooperation in defence matters between the United States and Singapore, and also the broader cooperation we have in so many other fields - in security, in economics, in counter-terrorism, and in culture and education, as well.
"So we are very happy with our relationship," he said at the Intercontinental New York Barclays hotel.
"We hope to grow it. And we hope that it will also be a means for the US to deepen its engagement in South-east Asia and in the Asia-Pacific region."
Mr Trump said the US was "close friends" with Singapore, and he and PM Lee had gotten to know each other very well.
PM Lee is heading Singapore's delegation at the United Nations General Assembly, and spoke at the Climate Action Summit on Monday. He will also meet several foreign counterparts this week.
The 1990 MOU was signed by founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then US Vice-President Dan Quayle, and was last renewed in 2005. The agreement facilitates US forces' access to Singapore's air and naval bases, and provides logistics support for its transiting personnel, aircraft and vessels.
Under it, the US has rotationally deployed fighter aircraft for exercises, refuelling and maintenance, and deployed Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore since 2013 and P-8 Poseidon aircraft since 2015.
Singapore's Ministry of Defence said the renewal underscores the Republic's support for the US presence in the region, which remains vital for regional peace, stability and prosperity.
PM Lee and Mr Trump also touched on Singapore's trade surplus with the US.
"In Singapore, you are our most important foreign investor and in America, as small as we are, we have $55 billion worth of investment," PM Lee said, adding that it generated a quarter of a million US jobs.
Mr Trump replied that was not bad.
"We do tremendous trade with Singapore and we appreciate it very much," he said.
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