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President Halimah, PM Lee congratulate US President-elect Biden, VP-elect Harris

SINGAPORE President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have sent congratulatory messages to US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has also congratulated Ms Harris.

In a message on her Facebook page on Sunday, Mdm Halimah said: "President-elect Biden is a good friend of Singapore. I recall warmly our meeting at a working dinner hosted by PM Lee in July 2013, when he visited Singapore with Dr Jill Biden."

Mr Lee, in his letter to Mr Biden, noted that the strong economic ties between the two countries are underpinned by the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

"Singapore is the US' largest trading partner for South-east Asia, and Singapore was the US' third largest Asian investor in 2019. We are the US' only Major Security Cooperation Partner.

"Our 1990 Memorandum of Understanding has supported the US' use of Singapore's military facilities and underscores our support for the US' presence, which remains vital for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific," said Mr Lee.

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Beyond the defence and economic spheres, the two nations cooperate in many other new areas, including infrastructure development and cyber security, which advance their shared interests, he said.

Mr Lee went on to add that besides Singapore, Mr Biden has many other friends and allies in the region who welcome the United States' strong commitment to the Asia-Pacific. "Significant strides were made in our relationship during your tenure as vice-president, including the United States' entry to the East Asia Summit and the appointment of its first ambassador to Asean."

Mr Lee also said: "Americans have placed their trust in your vision and leadership. Likewise, many countries are also looking forward to the global leadership of the United States under your administration as we work together to overcome the significant challenges facing the world, especially the immediate crisis brought by the Covid-19 pandemic."

In his letter to Ms Harris, Mr Lee noted that the two countries "share a robust and enduring friendship that has deepened over the decades".

Defence and security ties are underpinned by the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, and economic relations by the US-Singapore FTA - the US' first bilateral free trade agreement with an Asian country.

DPM Heng, in his congratulatory letter to Ms Harris, noted among other things that the two countries work closely on transnational security issues including counterterrorism and cyber security.

"I look forward to meeting you in the near future to discuss how both sides can enhance bilateral cooperation and strengthen the United States' engagement of the Asia-Pacific," Mr Heng added.

Mdm Halimah, in her Facebook post, also noted that Ms Harris has shown that "one should never be constrained by glass ceilings".

"Throughout her long and distinguished career in public office, she was not afraid of breaking barriers, achieving many 'firsts' along the way.

"This latest appointment caps a high point for her. Yet she is humble and often attributes her success to the hard work of those who came before her. Vice-President-elect Harris continues to be an inspiration to many young ladies around the world," said Mdm Halimah.

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