Singapore to Exercise Patience on Defense Agreements

SINGAPORE ~ Singapore said this week it would exercise patience to resolve differences over a series of defense agreements with Indonesia, but Jakarta should not make any substantive changes.

The two countries signed a defense cooperation agreement on April 27, alongside a landmark extradition treaty, after more than 18 months of talks.

But the signing of three implementing agreements detailing specific areas of cooperation was delayed because Indonesia requested last-minute changes, the Singapore government has said.

Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo said Singapore was still waiting for a response from Indonesia on a proposal for how the two sides could resolve their differences on the issues.

“Insisting on substantive changes or introducing new elements afterwards means that there was no agreement in the first place,” Yeo said in parliament on Monday.

However, Yeo said Singapore would try its best to accommodate Indonesia.

The defense pact and extradition treaty were hailed as a sign of improved diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Indonesia has been negotiating an extradition treaty with the city-state for years as it seeks to prosecute corrupt officials and executives who allegedly fled there with millions in state funds in the wake of the 1997 financial crisis.

Singapore, a regional financial centre, has denied allegations from Jakarta lawmakers that it is used by Indonesian criminals to launder money, and says it has proper safeguards.

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