Remarks With Singaporean Foreign Minister and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam
Secretary of State
(The document was signed.)
MODERATOR: The Secretary of State and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Law of the Republic of Singapore are now signing the memorandum of understanding between the United States of America and the Republic of Singapore on the United States-Singapore Third Country Training Program.
(The document was signed.)
MODERATOR: The Secretary of State and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law of the Republic of Singapore are now signing the memorandum of understanding between the United States of America and the Republic of Singapore on the establishment of an institutionalized strategic dialogue.
(The document was signed.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, let me say how delighted I am to welcome the foreign minister here to the State Department. He obviously has been to the United States numerous times before, but this is his first visit as foreign minister, so we are pleased to welcome him back.
This is a very consequential relationship. The multidimensional growth of our relationship with Singapore is an example of the importance that the United States sets on strengthening our engagement in the Asia Pacific. We are working together on a full range of issues, including moving forward on a high-quality trade agreement through the Trans-Pacific Partnership process.
We are partnering to increase maritime security cooperation by upholding the rule of law, fighting the scourge of piracy, and ensuring freedom of navigation. Because of our commitment to ASEAN, we are working to increase regional trade and economic integration, and through APEC, we have worked to spur the growth of small and medium-sized businesses. Our people work side by side to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to help Afghanistan rebuild.
At the ASEAN forum last year, the minister and I agreed to further deepen our relationship, and today we are taking steps to do just that by signing three documents that highlight the importance that we place on our partnership.
The first is a joint vision statement that articulates shared beliefs and goals, a mutual commitment to security, prosperity, protecting diversity, and the rule of law. These are values that both Americans and Singaporeans cherish.
Next, we signed a memorandum of understanding that represents concrete progress in implementing our joint vision. We will be sending development experts from the United States and Singapore to countries in the Lower Mekong area. They will team up to give health workers the tools they need to fight infectious disease, to help improve trade capacity, work to boost tourism, share best practices with teachers, humanitarian, and disaster relief workers, police and firefighters. We also discussed other ways that we could pursue third country training to help with the public administration and the civil service of countries.
And finally, we signed a memorandum of understanding that institutionalizes a U.S.-Singapore strategic partners dialogue between senior officials from both governments to meet annually under this framework to review our bilateral agenda as well as our regional and global cooperation.
So again, I am delighted to welcome the minister and to thank him and to thank his government for being such a valuable partner and such a leader on so many important issues of the 21st century.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHANMAGUAM: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I think our relationship is very strong. It’s broad-based. It’s deep. The joint vision statement sets that out. I’m not going to repeat everything that Madam Secretary has just said. It’s my first visit as foreign minister. We have had very substantive, good, useful discussions. And our senior officials met last week, and they also had excellent discussions. And I look forward to continuing the relationship that we have had for a very long period of time, our two countries, on a broad array of fronts. Thank you.
MODERATOR: We have time for two questions today. The first one, CNN, Elise Labott.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Firstly, if – could you tell us what you think about this recent ISAF report that details from Taliban detainees cooperation between the Taliban and Pakistan?
And then also – realize that today the UN Security Council will be discussing the resolution on Syria. Yesterday, the Russian ambassador, after hearing your comments, said that the UN Security Council can’t endorse the Arab League plan in a resolution. If the Russians will refuse to endorse the Arab League plan as you’re calling for, do they bear responsibility for the continued bloodshed there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to the confidential document that you’re referring to, Elise, I am obviously not going to be commenting on it. I think that there have already been comments that there’s nothing new in what has been released, but I’m not going to go into it in any depth.
With respect to Syria and the attitude of Russia, we recognize that getting the Security Council to act will require continuing consultations with our partners in the council, including Russia and China, on what the wording of a resolution will be. And I look forward to discussing this with my counterparts at the ministerial level as we go through that discussion.
But I think yesterday’s meeting certainly highlighted the importance of the Security Council acting and the importance of supporting the Arab League. The Arab League has set forth a roadmap as to how we can, working together through the international community in support of the Arab League, help to end the bloodshed and help to begin a peaceful political process that will result in a more democratic future for the people of Syria. The Syrian people themselves are the ones who are crying out for peace and justice, for dignity, for their rights, for a better future.
And every member of the council has to make a decision: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the Syrian people? Are you on the side of the Arab League? Are you on the side of the people of the Middle East and North Africa who have, during this past year, spoken out courageously and often for their rights? Or are you on the side of a brutal dictatorial regime? Each country will have to be mulling that over and making a decision, but certainly, from my perspective, as members of the Security Council charged with the responsibility of trying to help keep international peace and security, it is absolutely imperative that we all be on the right side of history. And that means standing with the Arab League and standing with the people of Syria.
MODERATOR: Last one, (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you. Two quick questions for Madam Secretary and the minister: First, how do the new projects that were announced today fit in with the broader U.S. pivot to Asia? And second, are there plans to elevate the strategic dialogue to a political level involving leaders from both countries? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want to begin?
FOREIGN MINISTER SHANMAGUAM: Yeah, sure. When you talk about the U.S. pivot to Asia, U.S. has always been in Asia, has played a very significant role. And we welcome that continued and even more intense focus that has been given in the last few years. So – and we welcome a very substantive engagement on economic, as well as political, as well as military engagement. And we, for example, 20 years ago, offered the use of our facilities to the U.S. And the SFA was signed in 2005, and our current engagement continues within that framework. So we believe that the U.S. engagement in Asia has been a pillar, the foundation, for peace and prosperity in the region. And therefore, we welcome that. And our discussions today are a continuation of that process.
As to whether our strategic partnership dialogue will include political leadership, we have regular ongoing discussions within political leaders at the highest levels, and that will obviously continue.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I can only agree with the minister’s comment. When you look at the free trade agreement and our military-to-military strategic framework agreement, those are two very strong pillars of our relationship. By adding this formal declaration of a strategic partners dialogue, we are tying it all together, because we have found, over the years in our very excellent relationship, that there is much for us to discuss. We look to Singapore not only on a bilateral level but also regionally and globally. And we often are very interested in what Singapore has to say about political issues as well as strategic considerations. So I think the U.S.-Singapore relationship is both broad and deep, and it will only continue to strengthen in the years ahead.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHANMAGUAM: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.