SINGAPORE: Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday (Aug 4) agreed on the importance of ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines will be made available globally.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said, in a telephone call that Dr Balakrishnan received from Mr Pompeo, the two discussed collaboration in the research and development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
They also talked about the possibility of leveraging the strong US commercial presence in Singapore, including in pharmaceuticals, said MFA in a press statement.
The statement added: “Both sides welcome the new areas of bilateral cooperation in infrastructure and trade as well as customs facilitation which will increase bilateral trade and strengthen the United States’ economic engagement of Southeast Asia.”
During the call, Dr Balakrishnan and Mr Pompeo also reaffirmed the “excellent and longstanding ties” between their countries, underpinned by strong cooperation in economic, defence and security matters, said MFA.
“Minister Balakrishnan welcomed the United States’ sustained, constructive and stabilising presence in the region and its continued engagement and efforts to strengthen cooperation with regional partners and ASEAN, including to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.
SOUTH CHINA SEA DEVELOPMENTS
During the call, both sides also addressed developments in the South China Sea, said MFA, adding that Dr Balakrishnan reaffirmed Singapore’s consistent and longstanding position.
“Singapore is not a claimant state and we do not take sides on the competing territorial claims,” said the ministry.
READ: US brands China's claims in South China Sea as 'completely unlawful'
“Our key interest is in maintaining peace and stability in one of the world’s busiest waterways.
“We uphold the right of all states to freedom of navigation and overflight, as well as support the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
China claims much of the South China Sea, but there are overlapping claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Washington and its allies have also challenged Beijing’s territorial claims.
In a separate statement, the State Department's principal deputy spokesperson Cale Brown said Mr Pompeo reiterated US support for Southeast Asian states upholding their sovereign rights and interests under international law.
During the call, Mr Pompeo also underscored US opposition to China’s efforts to "use coercion to push its unlawful South China Sea maritime claims”, added the spokesperson.