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The White House
For Immediate Release

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of the Republic of Singapore After Bilateral Meeting

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2:56 P.M. MYT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it’s a great pleasure to spend some time with Prime Minister Lee and the delegation from Singapore as Singapore celebrates 50 years.  And as the relationship between the United States and Singapore moves into its 50th year, it is wonderful to report that the state of our bilateral relationship is very, very strong.

I think around the world people admire the incredible progress that Singapore has made in creating prosperity and opportunity for its people and for being an excellent international partner.  And here at ASEAN, and previously at APEC, I think we’ve seen that although Singapore does not have a large population, it punches above its weight because of its wise policies and ability to work with all countries.

Prime Minister Lee and I have now been able to discuss a wide range of issues, many of them that were echoed during the EAS Summit.  We expressed concern about the work we need to do together to counter ISIL and to improve our intelligence and counterterrorism efforts.  

We talked about the South China Sea and the importance of upholding the basic principles and norms that have underwritten prosperity and stability in this region for many, many years.  We are two of the countries that helped to get TPP over the finish line, and we are both excited about prospects for the creation of jobs and new businesses and new opportunity in both our countries.  And we discussed a wide range of multilateral issues, such as climate change, that are going to require the support of large countries and small if we’re going to be able to succeed.

So I want to thank the Prime Minister for the excellent cooperation that we have between our two countries.  We’re looking to build on it in the future.  And as Prime Minister Lee mentioned before the press walked in, one of my goals as President has been to show the consistent engagement of the United States in this region, and it’s made much easier when we know we’ve got outstanding partners like Singapore.

So thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER LEE:  I thank President Obama for making time for this meeting with my delegation.  We discussed what President Obama has described to you.  The point that I made to the President was that the countries in this region all appreciate America’s engagement and participation in the region, its contribution economically, and security issues in terms of the overall strategic balance. 
And what matters most to the countries is to know that this will be maintained.  The President himself has made six trips to this region, every year attending the ASEAN meeting.  And that’s greatly appreciated.  And it’s important to know that this will continue beyond November 2016.  The President said, well, it depends who wins the next election.  But whoever wins the next election, America has interests in this region, which are enduring and which are worthy of attention and focus to advance them and to continue to be a constructive and strategic player in Asia for many years to come.