PM Lee in Washington DC to build on Singapore’s ‘robust partnership’ with US

PM Lee in Washington DC to build on Singapore’s ‘robust partnership’ with US

FILE PHOTO: Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives at the Hangzhou Exhibition Cent
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. (File photo: Reuters/Etienne Oliveau)

WASHINGTON DC: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong begins an official working visit to Washington DC on Saturday (Oct 21) at the invitation of US President Donald Trump.

The visit, until Oct 26, will build on Singapore’s “wide-ranging and robust partnership” with the United States over the past 51 years, said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statement on Saturday.

This is Mr Lee’s first visit to the US since the Trump administration took office.

He will meet President Trump at the Oval Office on Oct 23 and be hosted to a bilateral working lunch with Cabinet Secretaries and key White House officials.

Mr Lee will have separate meetings with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, National Security Advisor H R McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

The Prime Minister is also scheduled to meet key Congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

In addition, an agreement between Singapore Airlines and Boeing to buy more planes is expected to be formally signed.

Mr Lee will also take time to host Singaporeans at a reception at the US Embassy in Washington DC, speak at the Economic Club of Washington DC and have a moderated dialogue at the Council on Foreign Relations.

During his visit, Mr Lee will stay at the historic Blair House. He is the first Southeast Asian leader to be offered the use of the President’s guest house under the Trump administration.

CLOSE ECONOMIC, STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

Singapore is one of the US’ closest economic and strategic partners in Asia.

The economic relationship is underpinned by the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA), which entered into force in 2004. It is the US’ first bilateral trade agreement with a country in Asia. Trade and investment with Singapore supports more than 250,000 US jobs.

The US is also Singapore’s third largest trading partner country and the largest outside Asia. Bilateral goods and services trade totalled US$68.4 billion in 2016, equivalent to more than 20 per cent of Singapore’s GDP.

On the security front, Singapore and the US signed a joint enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement in 2015 that provided a framework for an expanded defence relationship.

Singapore is the also only Asian country to have contributed both military assets and personnel to the US-led coalition to defeat Islamic State.

During Mr Lee’s visit to Washington DC, he will be accompanied by Mrs Lee, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Trade & Industry (Industry) S Iswaran and Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung.

In his absence, the Acting Prime Minister will be Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean.

Source: CNA/ec

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