S’pore, Germany eye new areas of defence collaboration, Singapore News & Top Stories

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen met German Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Sunday to explore new areas of defence collaboration, including in cyber security and the tackling of disinformation.

The two ministers’ first meeting took place on the sidelines of the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany.

The annual three-day, high-level security conference brings together more than 500 heads of government, defence and foreign ministers, parliamentarians, military leaders and security experts from around the world.

During the meeting, Dr Ng thanked Germany for supporting the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) continued armour training in Oberlausitz as well as the SAF’s submarine programme and crew training in Kiel.

The ministers also reaffirmed warm and growing bilateral defence relations, said Singapore’s Ministry of Defence in a statement.

Dr Ng was on a four-day visit to Munich, which ended yesterday.

In addition to Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, he also met Australia’s Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and India’s Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar separately.

At each meeting, he and his counterpart reaffirmed bilateral defence relationships between their countries and talked about mutual defence cooperation.

Speaking at the 12th Munich Young Leaders Roundtable on Saturday, which saw participants from governments, think-tanks and the private sector from the Asia-Pacific, Dr Ng called for a degree of realism in problem-solving. He told 25 young leaders from 21 countries to “take the world as it is, not as what we want it to be”.

He added: “Our world has shifted… We have to be clear-eyed, and what we plan and our actions need to be relevant to the current challenges.”

He also discussed how the emergence of newer power centres is changing regional and global politics, and how these new norms could affect liberal democracies.

On Sunday, Dr Ng attended a discussion over lunch with delegates and business executives at the security conference.

The Atlantic Council luncheon took place outside the security conference, and those present spoke about issues ranging from the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) to how to address rapid technological change.

Nato has recently been divided by issues such as Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and United States President Donald Trump’s insistence that European countries contribute more to the defence alliance.

Last Friday, the first day of the conference, Dr Ng stressed the importance of upholding freedom of navigation in relation to the dispute over the South China Sea.

He also told those at a Maritime Security Roundtable during the conference that solutions should be diplomatic, de-escalatory and be based on trust and confidence.

China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines each claim sovereignty over some or all of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

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