Committed to work with new Indian govt: Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong

Written by PTI | Singapore | Updated: Aug 18 2014, 01:26am hrs
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today re-affirmed his commitment to work with newly elected leaders in India and Indonesia.

"There are new leaders in Indonesia and India. How their countries fare will affect the entire region. I look forward to working with them," said Lee referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesia's newly elected President Joko Widodo in his annual National Rally speech.

Highlighting Singapore's concern about global uncertainties, Lee said "The world is in flux. Conflicts far away could affect us".

In Ukraine, it was sheer luck that no Singaporeans were on the flight, but it could easily have been very different, said Lee, referring to last month's downing of a Malaysian Airline plane over Ukraine, killing 238 passengers and 15 crew on board.

"Nearer home, there are tensions in the South China Sea - every foreign leader I meet asks me about the South China Sea," he said.

Though Lee has not specifically stated in his speech, the South China Sea tensions continue over territorial claims between China and a number of South East Asian countries which are members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Yesterday, during the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Lee had welcomed India's strategic partnership with ASEAN, and encouraged India to continue playing an active and constructive role in South East Asia and support the ASEAN Groupings centrality in the various regional groupings.

Indian and Singapore officials are working on a first meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Lee at the "earliest possible opportunity".

Lee's reaffirmation of Singapore working closely with India underlines the strong diplomatic and robust bilateral trade relations between the two countries.

Minister Swaraj along with Singapore Foreign Minster K Shanmugam yesterday launched year-long celebrations of the 50-year of diplomatic relation between the two countries.

Indoensia is Singapores immediate neighbour along with Malaysia. The city state has strong diplomatic and historical trade ties with both the ASEAN member countries.