Jubilee celebrations for Singapore in Canberra and Seoul

Group photo after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Singapore High Commissioner gave the toasts to Singapore and Australia respectively. From left: Ms Julie Bishop (Australia's Foreign Minister), Mrs Zarina Gafoor (spouse of the Singapore
Group photo after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Singapore High Commissioner gave the toasts to Singapore and Australia respectively. From left: Ms Julie Bishop (Australia's Foreign Minister), Mrs Zarina Gafoor (spouse of the Singapore High Commissioner to Australia), Mr Abbott and Mr Burhan Gafoor (Singapore's High Commissioner to Australia).MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

CANBERRA - Singapore saw double golden jubilee celebrations on Wednesday when some 500 guests, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, gathered to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries and Singapore's National Day.

Australia was one of the first nations to establish diplomatic relations with Singapore in August 1965.

The joint commemorative event was held at the Australian Parliament House in Canberra, although embassies are generally not allowed to hold their national day receptions there.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who did not attend the event, wrote in a note that Singapore is privileged to count Australia as "an old friend and close partner".

"In relations between countries, five decades is not a long time. But for a young nation like Singapore, it is a major era," Mr Lee said.

He also revealed plans to visit Australia next year.

In June, Mr Abbott was in Singapore to sign with Mr Lee the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which lays out a 10-year roadmap for closer collaborations in areas, such as defence and economy.

Guests were on Wednesday treated to a musical piece, Singapore Suite, presented by Bridges Collective, an Australian and Singaporean ensemble.

A marble sculpture inspired by the Australian landscape and made by award-winning Singaporean artise Han Sai Por was presented as a gift to the Australian Parliament.

Meanwhile in Seoul, the Singapore mission also hosted a reception on Wednesday to mark Singapore's 50th birthday and the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations with South Korea.

The two countries established diplomatic ties on Aug 8, 1975.

About 400 guests were welcomed by Singapore ambassador Yip Wei Kiat at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. They included South Korea's Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Yoo Il Ho, former Foreign Minister Song Min Soon, as well as ambassadors from Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his Korean counterpart Park Geun Hye exchanged congratulatory letters, with Ms Park underlining untapped opportunities for cooperation between Singapore's knowledge-based economy and South Korea's creative economy.

Singapore food brands Bee Cheng Hiang and Crystal Jade, which have both entered the Korean market, served their signature bak kwa and dim sum, among other local delights, at the reception.