President Tan receives official welcome at Norway's Royal Palace

From left: Mrs Mary Tan, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Norway's royal couple, Queen Sonja and King Harald V, admiring the gifts which they exchanged at the Royal Palace in Oslo yesterday.
From left: Mrs Mary Tan, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Norway's royal couple, Queen Sonja and King Harald V, admiring the gifts which they exchanged at the Royal Palace in Oslo yesterday.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

The flags of Singapore and Norway fluttered in the wind and the strains of both countries' national anthems filled the air yesterday as President Tony Tan Keng Yam was given an official welcome at the Royal Palace in Oslo.

Dr Tan and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, were received by King Harald V and Queen Sonja, along with Crown Prince Haakon and his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, at the official residence of the king of Norway.

A marching band played Majulah Singapura and Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet, or Yes, We Love This Country, in a ceremony that also featured a 21-gun salute fired from the Akershus Fortress, a mediaeval castle about 1.6km away from the palace.

Dr Tan then inspected a Norwegian guard-of-honour contingent.

The President is in Norway for a six-day state visit, a first by a Singapore head of state to the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the trip reaffirms the warm relations between both countries.

After the welcome ceremony, Dr Tan visited the Akershus Castle where he laid a wreath at the National Monument built to commemorate the victims of World War II.

 

He then met Mr Olemic Thommessen, president of the Storting, the Norwegian Parliament, during which they discussed issues such as shipping and inter-parliamentary cooperation.

Mr Thommessen said: "We have many things in common, being small countries in the world, and networking between small countries is important... We can work together, not only bilaterally, but also in international organisations like the United Nations or in the Arctic Council."

Singapore is an observer on the Arctic Council, and it was Norway that supported Singapore's bid to join in 2011.

Yesterday afternoon, Dr Tan also attended the opening of a Norway-Singapore Business Forum, held at the Norwegian Shipowners' Association.

Two agreements were signed at the event, one between the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore to boost cooperation in areas such as research and development, and policy and regulations. The other was a tripartite agreement by the Singapore Business Federation, Innovation Norway and the Singapore-Norway Chamber of Commerce to develop stronger business relations between both countries. Innovation Norway is the Norwegian government's arm to develop and promote Norwegian enterprises.

Dr Tan, who landed in Oslo on Sunday, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Erna Solberg today before flying to Tromso, Norway's Arctic capital.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'President Tan receives official welcome at Norway's Royal Palace'. Print Edition | Subscribe