French President in S'pore at start of South-east Asian trip

French President Francois Hollande (left) shakes hands with Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam after a welcoming ceremony at the Istana presidential palace.
French President Francois Hollande (left) shakes hands with Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam after a welcoming ceremony at the Istana presidential palace.PHOTO: AFP

French President Francois Hollande arrived in Singapore for a two-day state visit yesterday, the first leg of his three-nation trip to South-east Asia focused on strengthening economic links.

He met students and faculty of France's ESSEC business school at its Asia-Pacific campus in one-north, before receiving an official welcome at the Istana hosted by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Mr Hollande called on Dr Tan, and both leaders reaffirmed the excellent ties between their countries, based on strong trust, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

"They took stock of the broad-based bilateral cooperation between both countries in areas such as trade, defence, culture, security, as well as education and research. They welcomed the strengthening of ties in these areas, and the expansion of cooperation in areas such as innovation," it added.

"They also exchanged views on regional and international developments, and agreed on the importance of free trade and countries remaining outward looking," the ministry said.

Dr Tan also hosted a state banquet for Mr Hollande, where both men reiterated their countries' commitment to openness and globalisation.

Today, Mr Hollande will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who will host him to lunch. He will also speak at an Innovation Forum, visit port operator PSA and deliver the 40th Singapore Lecture.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2017, with the headline 'French President in S'pore at start of South-east Asian trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe