Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen agreed Tuesday on the need for a rules-based order for regional security and to work on expanding their defense partnership.

Austin, who arrived in Singapore on Monday, is the first key member of President Joe Biden's Cabinet to visit Southeast Asia and is set to travel to Vietnam and the Philippines after three days in the city-state.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (front, R) is honored by Singapore's army on July 27, 2021, in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of Singapore's Defense Ministry)(Kyodo)

During their meeting in Singapore, Austin and Ng "agreed on the importance of sustaining a rules-based order" and "committed to continue discussions on U.S. force posture initiatives," according to a joint statement issued afterward.

Singapore provides logistical support to U.S. military aircraft and vessels and allows the regular rotational deployment of U.S. Navy littoral combat ships and P-8 aircraft.

The statement described the U.S. presence in the region as being "vital for its peace, prosperity and stability."

Austin also held talks with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday. "We are looking for new ways to work together, and strengthen this relationship further," Lee said on Facebook later.

Related coverage:

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to make 1st trip to India next week

Japan, U.S., S. Korea agree to boost cooperation over N. Korea nukes

British carrier strike group to make port calls in Japan in Sept.