JERUSALEM: Singapore hopes to do more together with Israel to develop technology expertise, particularly in the area of cybersecurity, as well as to boost people-to-people relationships, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday (Apr 19).
Mr Lee, who is on a week-long official visit to the Middle East, met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
"We have a long and deep relationship between Singapore and Israel. Our business-to-business ties are strong ... We admire your technical prowess and ecosystem," Mr Lee told Mr Netanyahu, noting that the country has the highest number of scientists, technologists and engineers per capita in the world, as well as the third highest number of patents per capita.
Mr Lee expressed his gratitude to Israel for helping Singapore develop its security capabilities when other countries turned it down. Israel is now the second-largest contributor of foreign direct investment to Singapore from the Middle East, he added.
This is the first time Mr Lee and Mr Netanyahu are meeting as Prime Ministers. Mr Lee first visited Israel in 1977 as a young army officer with the then-Chief of General Staff Winston Choo, who is now Singapore's Ambassador to Israel.
Prime Minister Lee reiterated Singapore's hope for a two-state solution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
"We are friends with both Israel and Palestine," Mr Lee said. "We hope that you'll be able to resume negotiations and make progress towards a just and durable solution to a long-standing and complex conflict."
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: MCI)
Separately, Mr Netanyahu thanked Mr Lee for Singapore's swift condemnation of Monday's bombing in Jerusalem.
Both Prime Ministers exchanged views on developments in the Middle East and discussed security issues like the threat from Islamic State extremists.
On Monday, Mr Lee witnessed the signing of an agreement between Singapore's National Research Foundation and Hebrew University, where he was also conferred an honorary doctorate.