Obama to host state dinner for PM Lee at White House

US President Barack Obama (right) meeting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House on March 31.
US President Barack Obama (right) meeting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House on March 31. PHOTO: WHITE HOUSE

US-Singapore ties will be celebrated in style in August when President Barack Obama hosts a White House state dinner for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

State dinners - glitzy black-tie affairs held in the White House state dining room - are considered among the top diplomatic honours that the United States administration can give and are reserved for the country's closest friends.

PM Lee will be the only leader from a South-east Asian nation to receive the honour during the Obama administration's nearly eight years.

The US and Singapore are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year and both sides have said the upcoming visit and dinner will build on already strong ties.

Washington analysts like Mr Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations say the dinner is a rare honour and reflects both the administration's priorities in Asia and Singapore's clout.

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White House state dinner for PM Lee a rare honour

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Obama to host state dinner for PM Lee at White House'. Print Edition | Subscribe