SINGAPORE: Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison will make an official visit to Singapore on Thursday (Jun 10) for a leaders’ meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
Mr Lee will meet Mr Morrison at the Istana, and the pair will hold a virtual joint press conference after the meeting, said MFA on Wednesday.
This is the sixth Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Meeting between the two countries. Mr Lee and Morrison held their previous meeting in March last year by video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Morrison's trip to Singapore will be the first official visit by a foreign leader since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visitors from Australia, except Victoria state, are allowed to enter Singapore with a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at the airport, in lieu of a stay-home notice that applies to most other countries.
Australian media have reported that no exemption has been made for Mr Morrison, but that his aides have been investigating how the process can be fast-tracked and whether Mr Morrison can instead undergo an antigen rapid test (ART).
Test results from ART tests take typically around 30 minutes, but it can take up to 48 hours for PCR tests, as the samples have to be sent to laboratories to be tested.
Both Mr Lee and Mr Morrison are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Leaders’ Meeting was established under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Australia to meet annually to discuss bilateral cooperation and exchange views on regional and international developments.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed in March that Australia and Singapore were in talks on a possible travel bubble that would allow residents to travel between both countries without having to quarantine.
The two countries were also in discussions on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates and resuming travel with priority for students and business travellers, MFA said in response to media queries at the time.
Singapore has already opened its border to some countries including Australia, and officials have said the country would like to establish reciprocal travel corridors.
Australia closed its borders to non-nationals and non-residents in March last year and has since been allowing only limited international arrivals, mainly citizens returning from abroad.
It also has a quarantine-free travel arrangement with New Zealand, although the scheme has been suspended several times in response to virus outbreaks.