Channel NewsAsia

Singapore, Australia recognise importance of US engagement in Asia: Dr Tan

The United States' presence in Asia has underpinned regional stability for the past decades, allowing many countries such as Singapore and Australia to prosper: President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

CANBERRA: Singapore and Australia both recognise the importance of continued engagement with the United States in Asia, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Monday (June 16), the second day of his six-day state visit to Australia. He noted that the US presence in Asia has underpinned regional stability for the past decades, and this has allowed many countries, including Singapore and Australia, to grow and prosper.

"Our two countries recognise the importance of continued US engagement in the region, as well as the fact that the US-China relationship will shape the regional environment. This strategic convergence underpins the close relationship that Singapore shares with Australia, which has grown deeper over the years," said Dr Tan. 

The president was speaking at a lunch hosted in his honour in Canberra. He is the first leader to be hosted by Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, who assumed office in late March. 

Dr Tan said that while Australia was one of the first countries to recognise Singapore's independence, the two countries' shared history goes even further back.

He noted the sacrifices made by Australian troops in defence of Singapore during World War II, adding that the Australian War Memorial is a powerful reminder of this.

"This is an indelible part of our shared history, and has contributed to the high level of comfort and familiarity we have with one another. Our many common interests have led to wide-ranging cooperation over the years," Dr Tan said. These common interests include education, people-to-people ties, trade and defence.

He added that Singapore and Australia are not just 'close friends' but 'long-standing partners'. And as Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence next year, it will also mark 50 years of diplomatic relations with Australia, in 2015. 

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