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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Welcomes Singaporean Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Well, Minister Ng, it's great to see you again. Welcome back to the Pentagon. It was great to see you in Singapore back in July. I really enjoyed my visit there, and so today, I'm happy to have a chance to reciprocate your kind hospitality.

And since my visit to Singapore, our countries have held several high-level engagements. Vice President Biden -- excuse me -- Vice President Harris had a terrific visit to Singapore last summer, and President Biden joined Prime Minister Lee and other Southeast Asian leaders in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit meetings this last week.

All of this underscores how deeply we value our relationships in Southeast Asia and our partnership with Singapore. Our countries have long -- have stood alongside each other through numerous challenges, and this past year reminded us yet again of the strength of our partnership. We're working together to tackle this global pandemic, and I'd like to personally thank you for your support during the Afghanistan evacuation. The multi-role tanker transport and Singapore armed forces personnel that you provided helped relocate more than 2,000 people who were in need. And that's no surprise, because Singapore has always been a strong, ready and willing partner on global security challenges.

Now, I hope that we'll have the opportunity today to discuss opportunities to strengthen our defense partnership, including our bilateral force posture initiatives, expanding joint training opportunities and addressing complex transnational security issues, including violent extremism and cybersecurity.

As you know, the Indo-Pacific has seen a lot of change and challenges, and our partnership will remain central to preserving and expanding the region's security and prosperity. So very much looking forward to our conversation that we began in July and will continue today. So thanks again, Mr. Minister, for your visit.

MINISTER OF DEFENCE NG ENG HEN: Thank you, Secretary Austin. If I can be allowed to just give a brief reply.

We're still talking about your visit in July. It was a great visit for us, a great honor to receive you and Vice President Harris. And as I said when we were walking (inaudible) you gave a stellar lecture, and also in handling of the easy questions that were thrown at you by (inaudible), and all I can say is that I think the audience, as well as many people in Singapore who were there during your visit are still discussing it.

But I think the strength of that -- your presence, as well as the vice president, the warm words of reaffirmation and reassurance gave us much cause to be very satisfied, our bilateral defense ties and to continue doing more as we -- based on our shared perspectives.

So I thought it would be remiss of me not to reciprocate and to continue discussions that we had in July. So here we are, and I want to thank you for the time that you've given us, your ambassador and the delegation, and I look forward to fruitful talks with you after this.

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, again, we're delighted to have you, so thanks for being here, Mr. Minister. Thank you very much, folks.