Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has been conferred France's highest award, an honour which he described as a "strong testament to the deep and growing defence and people-to-people ties between the two countries".
Dr Ng was conferred the title of Officer in the Legion of Honour by French President Emmanuel Macron, Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement early yesterday. French Defence Minister Florence Parly presented Dr Ng with the award.
In a speech at the award ceremony in Paris a day earlier, Dr Ng said France and Singapore have an "affinity and commitment to each other" despite being in different parts of the world and not sharing a common culture or history.
He noted that France has contributed significantly to Singapore's security and safety. The two countries' special forces had trained together to counter the threat of terrorism, while scientists and engineers have also worked together in each other's laboratories and in cyber space.
The Legion of Honour is France's highest award to recognise outstanding service by civilians or military personnel, regardless of their citizenship.
Past Singaporean recipients of the award include the former Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Winston Choo, in 1992.
In September last year, Mr Liew Mun Leong, chairman of Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong, and Nanyang Technological University don Lam Khin Yong were both conferred the rank of Knight.
Prior to the ceremony held at the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Dr Ng reviewed a French Honour Guard and met Ms Parly, the statement said.
"Both ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral defence cooperation and discussed security developments of mutual interest," the statement added.
As part of his two-day programme in Paris, Dr Ng also visited the French aeronautics, space and defence research laboratory, Onera.
There, he was briefed on the ongoing collaboration between Mindef and Onera.
Mindef said Dr Ng's visit "underscores the strong and broad-based defence relationship between Singapore and France".
Both armed forces and defence establishments have had regular high-level interactions, including joint military exercises and bilateral defence technology interactions and exchanges. Since 1998, the Republic of Singapore Air Force has also conducted its advanced jet training in Cazaux, in the south of France.
"These wide-ranging interactions have strengthened the friendship and mutual understanding between both countries," Mindef added.