25 years more for RSAF at Pearce airbase

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The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will train at the Pearce airbase in Western Australia for another 25 years, with a new treaty signed at a high-level bilateral dialogue between Singapore and Australia yesterday.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen tourism cooperation was also signed at the meeting.

The agreements were the main outcomes of the 10th Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee meeting yesterday in Singapore. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the biennial meetings.

It was co-chaired by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, and also involved the trade and defence ministers from both sides.

During the joint press conference, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen gave an update on the plans for the development of training facilities near the city of Townsville and at Shoalwater Bay in eastern Australia, saying that it was "on track".

Under the MOU on Military Training and Training Area Development signed last October, up to 14,000 Singapore Armed Forces troops will be able to conduct training in these places for up to 18 weeks a year over 25 years, in areas 10 times the size of Singapore.

The new Pearce treaty will enhance the existing MOU, which was signed in 1993 and expires next year.

Dr Ng and Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne signed the treaty, which allows the RSAF to maintain and operate its Flying Training Institute at the Royal Australian Air Force's Base Pearce for another 25 years. The treaty will be sent to the Australian Parliament for ratification.

During the meeting, the ministers reviewed bilateral cooperation efforts, including the implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed in 2015.

They also exchanged views on international and regional political, economic and security developments.

The Australian delegation called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and were hosted to lunch by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

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