Singapore is an anchor for the US presence in Asia, said US President Barack Obama, outlining why the country is being given the rare honour this week of an official visit with a state dinner at the White House.
He told The Straits Times such visits are an opportunity to "reaffirm our ties and friendship with our closest partners around the world".
"This visit is an occasion to mark the 50th anniversary of our bilateral relationship with Singapore, which is one of our strongest and most reliable partners in South- east Asia," he said.
"I look forward to hosting Prime Minister Lee, whose friendship and partnership I appreciate very much and with whom I've worked throughout my administration."
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrived in Washington, DC yesterday to begin his official visit. The state dinner will take place tomorrow (Wednesday morning Singapore time).
White House state dinners are grand affairs and regarded as one of the highest diplomatic honours the US government can give. Singapore is only the fifth Asian country and the first from South-east Asia to be honoured with a state dinner during the Obama presidency.
Mr Obama added that the official visit reflects the important
role Singapore plays in the US rebalance. "Singapore is an anchor for the US presence in the region, which is a foundation of stability and peace.
"Both our nations are committed to building a regional order where all nations play by the same rules and disputes are resolved peacefully and this visit will be an opportunity to continue deepening our cooperation on behalf of regional stability and prosperity," he said.
Read the full version of The Straits Times' interview with US President Barack Obama at http://str.sg/obamaqa