PM Lee to visit Turkey and attend Asia-Europe meet in Italy

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will make his first official visit to Turkey with a four-day trip that starts on Sunday. -- ZAOBAO PHOTO
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will make his first official visit to Turkey with a four-day trip that starts on Sunday. -- ZAOBAO PHOTO

ISTANBUL (Turkey) - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will make his first official visit to Turkey with a four-day trip that starts on Sunday.

He will visit the country's largest city, Istanbul, as well as its capital, Ankara, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

His agenda in Ankara includes a call on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a meeting and dinner with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and lunch with Deputy PM Ali Babacan.

In Istanbul, Mr Lee will meet chief executives of leading Turkish firms and attend a dinner hosted by the city's mayor, Mr Kadir Topbas.

Trade agency International Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation are also organising a Singapore business promotion mission to Turkey in conjunction with the visit.

Bilateral political and economic ties have been growing, with a series of high-profile visits in recent years.

Mr Erdogan visited Singapore in January this year when he was still Prime Minister. He later won the presidential election and was inaugurated as President on Aug 28.

Both sides are also negotiating a comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement and working to enhance air links. Total bilateral trade was valued at S$1.36 billion last year.

There are some 60 Turkish companies in Singapore. Singapore companies such as PSA, Charles and Keith and Frasers Hospitality have a notable presence in Turkey.

From Turkey, Mr Lee will travel to Milan, Italy, to join leaders from Asia and Europe for the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on Oct 16 and Oct 17.

This year's summit is themed "Responsible Partnership for Sustainable Growth and Security". Leaders will exchange views on global and regional issues, and discuss how to advance Asia-Europe cooperation.

Mr Lee also will take the opportunity to meet ASEM leaders and leading Italian business executives on the sidelines of the summit.

The statement from the PMO said Mr Lee will be accompanied by his wife, Madam Ho Ching.

With him in Turkey will be Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Senior Minister of State (Finance and Transport) Josephine Teo, and MPs Foo Mee Har and Zaqy Mohamad. Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, who is Second Minister for Environment and Water Resources and Foreign Affairs, will join Mr Lee in Milan.

In Mr Lee's absence, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean will be acting Prime Minister, the PMO said.