Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan have written to Mrs Nancy Kissinger to convey condolences on the passing of former US Secretary of State Dr Henry Kissinger. The text of the letters is appended.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
1 DECEMBER 2023
Letter from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Mrs Nancy Kissinger
30 November 2023
Ho Ching and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of your beloved husband, Dr Henry Kissinger.
Dr Kissinger will be remembered warmly by many around the world. He was a peerless diplomat, true statesman, and visionary of his time. As a leader, he served with conviction and pragmatism. He was convinced the United States had a vital responsibility to maintain global peace and stability, and acted on this conviction.
Dr Kissinger was deeply involved in President Nixon’s rapprochement with China in 1972. This watershed moment transformed the geostrategic order. It led to an extended period of stable U.S.-China relations, steady global growth and deepening globalisation that lasted for decades, greatly benefitting the U.S. and many other countries.
From Singapore’s perspective, another of Dr Kissinger’s major accomplishments was the extraction of the U.S. from the Vietnam War. He felt deeply the need to protect U.S. credibility and its global influence, and refused to simply abandon America’s South Vietnamese ally. Though he was bitterly criticised for his actions, his strategy bought the non-Communist countries of Southeast Asia precious time. We were able to build up our political, economic, and military strength, and to organise ourselves into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). By the time South Vietnam fell in 1975, and the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1978, the ASEAN members were much better able to deal with the security threats.
My father always spoke of Dr Kissinger with the greatest respect and warmth. Their friendship lasted for nearly half a century. I was deeply touched that Dr Kissinger travelled all the way to Singapore in March 2015 to attend my father’s State Funeral, as well as by the moving eulogy that he delivered, extempore, at the private memorial service for Mr Lee in New York that September.
I had the privilege of knowing Dr Kissinger personally too. Ho Ching and I recall fondly staying with you and Henry at your home in Kent, Connecticut in 2007. I have benefitted greatly from Henry’s counsel, wisdom, and curiosity about the world. He had a constant hunger for knowledge, a drive to understand the transformative forces that are changing the geopolitics of the world, including new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.
We last met when I visited New York in April 2022. Our conversation lasted well over an hour. Henry was in fine form. He asked many probing questions, and was completely au fait with the latest international developments. Even in his last few months, he continued to offer insightful perspectives and wise counsel, particularly on U.S.-China relations.
Dr Kissinger touched many hearts throughout his long life. His legacy will remain with us for a long time to come. His was a life well lived, and it has been my honour and good fortune to have known him.
Please accept our deepest condolences during this time of grief.
Lee Hsien Loong
Letter from Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan to Mrs Nancy Kissinger
1 December 2023
Dear Mrs Kissinger,
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of your husband, Dr Henry Kissinger.
Dr Kissinger was an intellectual giant whose tireless diplomatic efforts helped to reshape the world. He was the architect behind many policies that indelibly changed the global order, including the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China as well as the extrication of the United States from the Vietnam War. These have allowed countries the time and space to develop and prosper, and proved that open economies, globalisation, and economic integration can uplift societies.
For Singapore, Dr Kissinger was a longstanding friend and ardent supporter over the decades, stemming from his friendship with our founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore has benefitted from Dr Kissinger’s conviction in the need for a strong American presence in Southeast Asia, which translated into stability and prosperity for the region.
I had the privilege of meeting Dr Kissinger several times over the years. My conversations with him have always been the highlights of my visits to New York City. He never shied away from new challenges, and our conversations delved into pressing questions of the day such as artificial intelligence, nuclear non-proliferation, and climate change, to try and ensure the safety and well-being of humanity. Our meetings were precious opportunities for me to exchange insights on geopolitics and tap his wisdom when tackling thorny quandaries in foreign policy. Dr Kissinger was, and will continue to be an inspiration and mentor for many of us.
Please accept my heartfelt condolences. I wish you and your family strength in your bereavement.
DR VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN