US Defense Chief in Singapore in Push to Boost Southeast Asia Ties

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will likely discuss deterring Chinese aggression in Southeast Asia through his stated pursuit of “integrated deterrence” as he delivers an address Tuesday during a visit to Singapore. 

Austin is the first top official from the Biden administration to visit the region.

After talks Tuesday with Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, the two countries said in a joint statement they discussed regional security issues and “the importance of sustaining a rules-based order,” a major tenet of U.S. foreign policy since Biden took office.

The statement said the defense ministers also talked about potential areas of further cooperation, including cyber defense, humanitarian aid and disaster relief. 

Austin’s trip includes further stops in Vietnam and the Philippines.