PM Lee meets Xi, Merkel ahead of G-20 summit

PM Lee Hsien Loong (right) and Chancellor Angela Merkel pose for a photo ahead of the Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders' Summit.
PM Lee Hsien Loong (right) and Chancellor Angela Merkel pose for a photo ahead of the Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders' Summit.PHOTO: PM LEE/FACEBOOK
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hamburg, Germany, yesterday.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hamburg, Germany, yesterday.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Leaders discuss ways to expand bilateral ties and deepen economic integration

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the first day of his visit to Germany yesterday, and took stock of bilateral ties with both leaders.

PM Lee's meeting with Mr Xi in Hamburg, ahead of the Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders' Summit today, is their first since the previous summit in Hangzhou last September.

In a sign of warming ties, it comes soon after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang accepted PM Lee's invitation to visit Singapore.

PM Lee and Mr Xi "affirmed the substantive bilateral relationship, frequent high-level exchanges and good progress made in bilateral cooperation", PM Lee's office said.

They discussed how Singapore could work with China to implement the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, which has made good progress in financial services and aviation connectivity.

They also agreed to promote closer economic integration through the speedy conclusion of an upgrade of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

Also discussed was the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail project, and PM Lee welcomed China's interest.

PM Lee and Mr Xi said they were committed to work together to promote closer cooperation between Asean and China. Singapore is coordinator of Asean-China dialogue, and will chair Asean next year.

They also discussed regional and global developments, and PM Lee congratulated Mr Xi on the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China under "one country, two systems".

  Earlier in the day, PM Lee called on Dr Merkel at her office in Berlin.

They agreed to expand cooperation in new areas such as Industry 4.0, the development of start-ups, urban mobility and cyber security. An enhanced defence cooperation agreement is in the works, and the leaders hoped the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement would be swiftly ratified.

PM Lee also thanked Dr Merkel for inviting Singapore to the G-20 summit. Dr Merkel said: "As the chair of the Global Governance Group (3G), Singapore works very much to remind us of the interests of smaller countries and medium- sized countries."

The 3G is a group of 30 small and medium-sized countries, of which Singapore is convener, that seeks greater transparency and inclusivity in the G-20's discussions.

PM Lee said Singapore hopes to contribute its perspective and ideas and work with Germany and others to advance the G-20 agenda, and promote stronger engagement between the G-20 and the wider United Nations membership.

PM Lee will also meet several G-20 leaders, including US President Donald Trump, this week. While global growth and trade are among top items on the G-20 agenda, security concerns will also be discussed, in the light of North Korea's latest ballistic missile test and setbacks for ISIS in the Middle East.

SEE TOP OF THE NEWS: Singapore, Germany to step up economic, security ties

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'PM Lee meets Xi, Merkel ahead of G-20 summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe