President Tony Tan lays wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, meets French Prime Minister

Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam (centre) lays a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier, at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, on May 19, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam (centre) lays a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier, at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, on May 19, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam laid a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which lies at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. -- PHOTO: MCI
Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam laid a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which lies at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. -- PHOTO: MCI

PARIS - Traffic at one of Paris' busiest roundabouts ground to a halt on Tuesday morning as visiting Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam laid a ceremonial wreath at the Arc de Triomphe, which stands at its centre.

Roads and underpasses leading to the monument were sealed off by police for about half an hour before, and also during the 20-minute ceremony.

The nearly 50-metre-tall Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for the country, with names of generals and battles fought engraved on its surface.

At its base lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I and a memorial flame, rekindled every evening in honour of soldiers fallen in war.

On his visit to the monument, Dr Tan was received by France's secretary of state for urban policy Myriam El Khomri.

The French and Singapore national anthems were played before and after the laying of the wreath. Dr Tan was then introduced to several war veterans, and signed the Livre d'Or, a guestbook for leaders to pen their thoughts.

In the afternoon, Dr Tan, who is on a seven-day state visit to France, had a working lunch with Prime Minister Manuel Valls at his official residence, the Hotel Matignon.

Both expressed satisfactin with the state of bilateral ties and noted that agreements signed this week would pave the way for cooperation in new areas such as space technology, nuclear safety, and cyber security.

They also discussed common challenges, including climate change and religious extremism.

Dr Tan then visited the laboratory of Professor Serge Haroche, who was awarded the 2012 Nobel Physics prize, in the College de France. The professor is part of a team from the Kastler-Brossel Laboratory, a prestigious research facility with links to the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

The lab currently has two Nobel laureates on its staff. The other is Professor Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, who was awarded the Nobel prize in Physics in 1997.

Both were scheduled to meet Dr Tan.

asyiqins@sph.com.sg