A joint press conference between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was held on 19 April.
Ardern is in Singapore as part of a trade mission and arrived in Istana to meet with Prime Minister Lee and President Halimah Yacob.
In a speech at the joint press conference, both Prime Minister Lee and Ardern reaffirmed the bilateral relations between the two countries, and Ardern called Singapore a “very close friend.” CNA reported.
The two leaders also addressed issues related to engagement with China and the comprehensive and progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP).
Discussed China and its position on the Ukraine invasion
With regard to China and Russia, Prime Minister Lee said he had discussed the matter with Ardern and that both countries are keeping an eye on the situation in Ukraine and how it will affect relations between China and Russia and therefore between China and the United States.
He added: “We both have a vested interest in ensuring that relations between China and the United States are stable and do not become complicated or further strained in terms of hostility or lack of trust on both sides. And we hope that wisdom will prevail and that Ukraine does not will handle things. more complicated. “
A similar view was expressed by Ardern, who said that on the issue of engaging China in the war and conflict in Ukraine, New Zealand had constantly sent the same message: that what is happening in Ukraine is an attack on a country’s sovereignty and their territorial integrity.
“You will find countries like China that refer to it (the Ukraine conflict) and raise it as a problem. And then we continue to encourage, at all levels, China to continue to recognize what the Ukraine conflict stands for. world.”
How about the United States joining the CPTPP?
In response to a question about what Singapore is prepared to compromise to get the United States to rejoin the CPTPP, Prime Minister Lee replied that he did not believe the United States was asking Singapore to compromise.
He said, “We would very much love to see them come back. But they have told us quite clearly that it has nothing to do with us. It’s just off the table because their policy is not making it possible at the moment.”
Meanwhile, the United States still wants to remain committed to the Asia-Pacific region in all ways that are politically feasible, but will also demonstrate their continued commitment to the Asia-Pacific region and their share here, he added.
The United States has been talking about the idea of an Indo-Pacific economic framework, he noted.
“And we’ve said, ‘Well, we support that,’ because we think it’s good for you (the United States) to continue to be present in this region, and we hope we’ll be able to put as much substance as possible on the Indo-Pacific economic framework, “added Prime Minister Lee.
As for Ardern, she said an existing agreement and framework already exists in the form of the CPTPP, which New Zealand and other countries had worked “very hard” to negotiate.
Ardern also recognized Singapore as one of the “early architects” behind the agreement.
As for the United States, Ardern also reiterated Prime Minister Lee by stating that domestic considerations for the United States mean that the CPTPP is not the most realistic option for the country.
However, Ardern clarified:
“This does not mean that there is no opportunity, and it is our job to ensure that we continue to engage and offer the opportunities where the United States can demonstrate commitment to the economic architecture and economic well-being of this region, and we will continue to work hard together on that. “
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Top screenshot from Prime Minister’s Office YouTube