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PM Lee to visit France and Poland to strengthen bilateral ties with both countries

Published on Oct 26, 2013 6:00 PM
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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault shake hands in the Istana in this photograph taken last year. Mr Lee will make an official visit to France and Poland from Oct 27 to Nov 1. In France, he will meet President François Hollande, Mr Ayrault and other French leaders. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will make an official visit to France and Poland from Sunday to Nov 1.

He will discuss ways to strengthen Singapore's bilateral ties with the two countries.

Mr Lee will also seek the support of French and Polish leaders for the early ratification of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, whose legal text was recently initialled by both sides.

The landmark pact will benefit consumers here and the Singapore economy. Shoppers, for example, will find more variety of European goods here while businesses will find it easier to do trade with Europe.

This will be Mr Lee's third official visit to France. While in Paris from Sunday to Wednesday, he will meet President François Hollande, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and other French leaders. He will also attend a business forum, meet French businessmen and academics, as well as Singaporeans living in the country.

In October last year, Singapore and France elevated their relationship to a strategic partnership.

Mr Benjamin Dubertret, the French ambassador to Singapore, told The Straits Times that the partnership was extremely valuable to France.

Mr Lee's visit will also allow France to "highlight the gap between the actual speed and depth of the reforms that are carried out in Europe and France and the somewhat pessimistic views still expressed by some commentators," he said.

On Wednesday, Mr Lee will fly to Warsaw for his first official visit to Poland.

He will meet President Bronisław Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk and other leaders.

Mr Waldemar Dubaniowski, the Polish ambassador to Singapore, said ties between Singapore and Poland - Europe's sixth biggest economy - have been growing on various fronts, and the visit will build on this.

Mr Lee will attend a business forum and also visit the city of Gdańsk on the Baltic coast.

He will be accompanied by Mrs Lee. The delegation includes Minister of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, who will speak at a business seminar, and Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs. A business delegation will be led by SBF chairman Tony Chew.

Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Co-ordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, will be the acting Prime Minister from Sunday to Nov 2.