It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement.Due to obvious geographical reasons, relations with Malaysia and Indonesia are most important. Historical baggage, including the traumatic separation from Malaysia, and Konfrontasi with Indonesia, have caused a siege mentality of sorts. Singapore enjoys good relations with the United Kingdom which shares ties in the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) along with Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. Good relations are also maintained with the United States; the US is perceived as a stabilizing force in the region to counterbalance the regional powers. Singapore supports the concept of Southeast Asian regionalism and plays an active role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Singapore is a founding member. Singapore is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum which has its Secretariat in Singapore.
As part of its role in the United Nations, Singapore held a rotational seat on the UN Security Council from 2001 to 2002. It participated in UN peacekeeping/observer missions in Kuwait, Angola, Kenya, Cambodia and Timor Leste. Singapore's leaders are realists; they perceive a Hobbesian world where might makes right. The resultant siege mentality is due to Singapore's geographical weaknesses, mistrust of Malaysia and Indonesia due to historical baggage, and from how it stands out as a "little red dot in a sea of green", as then-President Habibie of Indonesia put it. Singapore's first foreign minister was S. Rajaratnam, and the country's foreign policy still bears his imprimatur. Rajaratnam originally framed Singapore's foreign policy, taking into account "the jungle of international politics", and was wary of foreign policy "on the basis of permanent enemies." In 1966, S. Rajaratnam saw Singapore's challenge as ensuring its sustained survival, peace, and prosperity in a region suffering from mutual jealousies, internal violence, economic disintegration and great power conflicts.
In accordance with this worldview, Singapore's foreign policy is aimed at maintaining friendly relations with all countries, especially Malaysia, Indonesia, and ASEAN, and ensuring that its actions do not exacerbate its neighbors' insecurities. In 1972, Rajaratnam envisioned the world being Singapore's hinterland – integration into the world economy would ameliorate Singapore's inherent lack of natural resources. Thus, Rajaratnam believed that maintaining a balance of power, rather than becoming a de facto vassal of some larger power, would provide Singapore with freedom to pursue an independent foreign policy. The interest in the Great Powers in Singapore would also deter the interference of regional powers.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is based in Singapore. Singapore hosted the APEC forum in 2009. Meetings between Singapore Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Barack Obama took place on 15 November 2009. The International Criminal Police Organization INTERPOL has opened its Global Complex for Innovation, or IGCI, in Singapore in 2015. As of 2016, the IGCI houses a global Command and Coordination Centre, the Organization's Capacity Building and Training Directorate, an Innovation Centre annex Cyber Research Lab, and the Cybercrime Directorate, which also incorporates the building's iconic Cyber Fusion Centre. The building is also used for large-scale projects and operations with a global impact, law enforcement trainings and cross-sector conferences with a nexus in the ASEAN region.
Singapore maintains an embassy or High Commission in Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. North Korea has an embassy in Singapore. North Korea–Singapore relations is friendly but not active. North Koreans often travel to Singapore for economics and business training.
In December 2004, during the disaster wrought by the massive tsunami that hit Indonesia, the Singapore Armed Forces dispatched three Endurance class landing platform dock ships - RSS Endurance, RSS Persistence and RSS Endeavour off the coast of Meulaboh, one of the worst hit areas where all road access was cut off. Onboard these ships were medical and engineering teams and volunteers with NGOs. The ships were also loaded with medical supplies and heavy equipment to help clear roads and debris. Six Chinook helicopters and two Super Puma helicopters were also dispatched to Aceh, two Chinook helicopters and two Super Puma helicopters to Phuket, Thailand. C130s were also dispatched to ferry relief supplies to tsunami-hit areas.
In September 2005, Singapore responded to the relief effort of Hurricane Katrina in the United States, by sending four CH-47 Chinook helicopters and forty-five RSAF personnel. In the aftermath of the 2005 Bali bombings, the Singapore Armed Forces sent a medical team, composed of two doctors, two nurses, and two paramedics, to Bali to help treat victims of the blasts at the Sanglah Hospital. (CNA)
In October 2005, the Singapore Civil Defence Force dispatched a 44-member Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team to Pakistan to help in the relief and rescue operations following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Singapore is affected by ongoing international affairs relating to terrorism as demonstrated by the Singapore embassies attack plot. During 15–17 August 2005, Singapore hosted a multi-national maritime interdiction exercise, codename Exercise Deep Sabre as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Launched at Changi Naval Base and conducted in the South China Sea, the exercise involves some 2,000 personnel from 13 countries.
Singapore hosted the Regional Special Forces Counter-Terrorism Conference from 21–25 November 2005. On 6 May 2004, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong delivered a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. titled "Beyond Madrid: Winning Against Terrorism", expressing Singapore's view on the controversial and often criticised (see Criticism of the War on terrorism) war on terrorism.
In August 2005, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore agreed to conduct joint anti-piracy patrols in the Malacca Strait to increase security in one of the world's busiest sealanes Thailand later also joined in this effort. Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore conduct trilateral, coordinated maritime surface patrols, known as the Malacca Strait Sea Patrols, and coordinated airborne surveillance under the 'Eyes in the Sky' arrangement. Other forms of cooperation between the littoral states include an agreement between Malaysia and Indonesia in 2007 to increase joint anti-piracy training in the Malacca Strait, the Surface
Picture Surveillance System (SURPIC) launched by Singapore and Indonesia in May 2005, and the Malacca Strait Patrol Information System (MSP-IS) to share information about shipping in the Malacca Strait. In addition to embassies or High Commissions, Singapore maintains consulates or honorary consulates in Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland (Permanent Mission in Geneva), Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Vietnam..