- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2001

The United States and Singapore are to increase military and economic cooperation as nearby Indonesia threatens to fall apart, President Bush and Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong agreed yesterday at the White House.
Mr. Goh discussed with Mr. Bush and later with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell regular recent visits by U.S. aircraft carriers to Singapore, which has become a fueling and service base since the United States lost its bases in the Philippines 10 years ago.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Goh also discussed plans to create the first free-trade agreement between the United States and an Asian country.
However, negotiations on the pact remain incomplete and Mr. Goh is to spend the next three days meeting with U.S. trade and commerce officials to try to resolve differences.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice also took part in the morning meeting, where she, Mr. Bush and Mr. Goh reaffirmed "the importance and vitality of U.S.-Singapore relations," said a White House statement.
"The United States and Singapore have a robust defense partnership, which helps contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," the statement added.
The two leaders also pledged their support for Indonesia, which is beset by political crises, including several separatist movements and the impending impeachment of President Abdurrahman Wahid.
"All countries in the region are concerned that Indonesia might fall apart," said Lim Yuin Chien, first secretary of the Singapore Embassy.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Goh "further reaffirmed support for Indonesias territorial integrity," the White House statement said.
"The United States and Singapore share the hope that Indonesia will achieve a peaceful, constitutional and timely resolution to the current political crisis in a way that promotes national reconciliation and effective governance."
During a separate meeting with Mr. Powell, Mr. Goh discussed continued visits by U.S. aircraft carriers to Singapores port.
In March, the USS Kitty Hawk became the first U.S. aircraft carrier to dock at a newly constructed deep-water pier that Singapore built especially for the giant U.S. warships.
Since the loss of U.S. bases in the Philippines, Singapore has deepened its port to allow access by U.S. carriers, which provide security for Southeast Asia.
Mr. Goh and Mr. Powell "talked about a whole number of issues, both the bilateral ones, like the trade agreement, the fact that a U.S. aircraft carrier has recently made a major port call there, and talked about a lot of regional issues involving (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the situation in Indonesia," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
"The overall situation in Asia came up with regard to various countries, and the role of the United States. Singapore has welcomed and supported the United States role in the region for stability, and so they talked about that."

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