SOCHI- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday evening (May 19), on the sidelines of a summit marking 20 years of Asean-Russia ties.
Mr Lee, who is on the third day of his visit to Russia, thanked President Putin for hosting the Asean-Russia commemorative summit, and affirmed the deepening relations between Singapore and Russia and the growing economic partnership.
Both leaders also welcomed the strong progress made by the high-level Russia-Singapore Intergovernmental Commission (IGC), said Mr Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin.
The first step towards a free trade agreement (FTA) between Singapore and the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) - which includes Russia - was taken on Wednesday, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to deepen ties.
Mr Lee had said after witnessing the signing of the MOU that it will hopefully pave the way for a feasibility study and negotiations on the FTA.
It was at an IGC meeting last November that officials from both sides had agreed to commence the process to negotiate a comprehensive FTA between Singapore and the EAEU.
Mr Lee said following his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that he hopes the FTA will be completed by 2018, in time for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Russia.
Mr Putin, too, expressed support for the FTA during his meeting with Mr Lee. Both leaders also looked forward to further collaborations in new areas, said Ms Chang.
Following the meeting, Mr Putin hosted a gala reception for Asean leaders of the summit, where he emphasised the mutual benefit of closer economic ties between Asean countries and those of the EAEU.
"It is essential that both Asean and Russia seek to improve integration, with a view to establishing links between the current large-scale economic projects implemented in the territory of the Asia-Pacific region," he said.