US plans more military co-operation with Singapore
The United States said it anticipated further military co-operation with Singapore as Washington presses forward its strategy of putting a greater focus on dispute-ridden Asia.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, kicking off a visit to Washington, spoke to Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel about resolving territorial issues in the South and East China Seas, the Pentagon said.
Hagel "made clear the United States and the Department of Defence remain committed to the rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region", Pentagon spokesman George Little said after the meeting on Monday.
Hagel told Lee that "in the future there will be even more opportunities for closer collaboration between the United States and Singapore", Little said.
The US is shifting more of its military towards Asia, part of President Barack Obama's stated "pivot" or "rebalance" to Asia at a time of high tensions between a rising China and several of its neighbours.
The USS Freedom, a littoral combat ship, is en route to Singapore for a temporary deployment. The city state plans to host up to four of the US ships.
Hagel also said he would visit Singapore next month for the annual Shangri-La defence forum. Secretary of State John Kerry plans his own first official trip to Asia later this month.
Lee was due yesterday to meet Obama at the White House for talks expected also to focus on trade.