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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks Welcoming Singapore Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III:  Well, Minister Ng, welcome back to the Pentagon.  It's great to see you again so soon after you graciously hosted me in Singapore.

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE NG ENG HEN:  (Laughing) Long time, no see!

SEC. AUSTIN:  And then, we just recently were together at the ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting Plus.  Great to see you on both occasions, and your tremendous hospitality while we were in Singapore was very, very much appreciated.

And so our teams have been working hard to expand our defense cooperation over the years, and in September, acting Secretary — acting Under Secretary Sasha Baker, who is right here, visited Singapore to continue our work to improve our force posture collaboration and to increase high-end air-to-air training.

In October, the inaugural U.S.-Singapore Critical and Emerging Technologies Dialogue was launched here in Washington with Deputy Prime Minister Wong.  And all of that progress underscores our deepening partnership on defense innovation, and just yesterday, Under Secretary LaPlante and Permanent Secretary Heng concluded a Security of Supply Arrangement, which is an important step that will strengthen our supply chain resiliency.  And so these accomplishments show the strength of our relationship and they underscore Singapore's unique status as a major security cooperation partner of the United States.

Mr. Minister, Singapore remains one of our most valued defense partners.  I am truly grateful for your friendship and for all that you personally do for peace and security in the Indo-Pacific.  Again, thanks for making the long trip, and it's always a pleasure to see you, but especially now.

MIN. NG:  Oh, thank you.  Thank you, Secretary Austin.

We would love to visit U.S. more often if you were a little bit closer to...


— and vice versa, but thank you.  As I said to you in Jakarta, I want to thank you personally for — these troubled times, for your leadership.  It can't be easy, having to deal with the situation in Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific, so — and you — you've been committed, Secretary, for ASEAN and being in ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting every time, being at Shangri-La Dialogue.  As you yourself said, every secretary of defense has come to Shangri-La Dialogue, and you are a key component of it.  So thank you personally.  I — as I said in Jakarta, I wish you well and my prayers are with you each day.  It's a tough job, and I'm thankful that you're there.

SEC. AUSTIN:  Well, it's great to have you here, Mr. Minister, and I look forward to a great conversation today. 

Thanks, everybody.