PM Lee on first bilateral visit to Russia

PM Lee will have meetings with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) chairman Tigran Sargsyan and senior government officials.
PM Lee will have meetings with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) chairman Tigran Sargsyan and senior government officials.PHOTO: MCI

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong begins a four-day working visit to the Russian Federation today.

He will then travel to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Thursday to attend the Asean-Russia Commemorative Summit.

The trip is PM Lee's first bilateral visit to Russia. The last such visit by a Singapore prime minister was made by the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who visited the then Soviet Union in September 1990.

In a statement yesterday announcing the visit, the Prime Minister's Office said that in Moscow, PM Lee will have meetings with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) chairman Tigran Sargsyan and senior government officials.

He will also meet leading Russian business executives and entrepreneurs, and members of the Singapore community in Moscow.

Trade agency IE Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation are organising a business mission in conjunction with PM Lee's visit.

The EEC is the regulatory body of the Eurasian Economic Union, which groups Russia and the former Soviet states of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in a market of 180 million people, with a total gross domestic product of US$4.2 trillion (S$5.7 trillion).

Singapore and Russia agreed to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union last November, and this visit is expected to see the signing of an agreement to promote greater cooperation between Singapore and the EEC, as well as its five members.

PM Lee will fly to Sochi on Thursday for the Asean-Russia Commemorative Summit to mark the 20th anniversary of Asean-Russia ties. Leaders of the 10 Asean members will review Asean-Russia cooperation and discuss its future direction, and exchange views on regional and international issues.

PM Lee will also call on Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit. The summit comes three months after United States President Barack Obama played host to Asean leaders at a special leaders' summit in Sunnylands, California. It is also ahead of an Asean-China Commemorative Summit in Laos in September to mark the 25th anniversary of Asean-China relations.

PM Lee will be accompanied by Mrs Lee, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport Josephine Teo, and Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Koh Poh Koon.

During PM Lee's absence, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean will be the Acting Prime Minister.

Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu will also be in Sochi from today until Saturday and will attend a meeting of culture ministers from Asean and Russia.

The meeting will discuss ways to strengthen cultural ties between Asean and Russia.

Ms Fu is also scheduled to attend the inaugural Russia-Asean Festival of Culture, which will feature leading artists from Russia and Asean member countries. Singapore is taking part in the festival and will be represented by Nadi Singapura, a group that promotes traditional Malay drums and percussion, and by the Peranakan Museum.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'PM Lee on first bilateral visit to Russia'. Print Edition | Subscribe