The resounding sound of Majulah Singapura filled the courtyard of the Hotel national des Invalides yesterday as France welcomed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Paris.
The official welcome ceremony marked the start of PM Lee's three-day official visit to France, during which he will be a guest of honour at the country's National Day celebrations, also known as the Bastille Day parade.
Mr Lee was greeted by France's Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi at the Hotel national des Invalides, a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France.
The buildings include the mili-tary museum and a large church with the tombs of some of France's war heroes, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Mr Lee was later stopped by a group of Singaporeans who asked for a selfie with him.
The Prime Minister, who arrived in Paris at 7.40am yesterday, had lunch with French industry leaders and exchanged views with them on bilateral economic cooperation and business opportunities in Singapore and France.
PM Lee later met French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, and the leaders took stock of the robust and multi-faceted partnership between both countries in security, trade, culture, research and education.
They also discussed regional and international issues of common concern, and reaffirmed Singapore and France's commitment to the open trading system, rule of law and multilateralism.
In the evening, PM Lee called on French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace. Mr Macron and his wife then hosted PM Lee to dinner.
PM Lee, who is in Paris at the invitation of Mr Macron, will attend the Bastille Day celebration today.
It marks the fall of Bastille in 1789, a turning point in the French Revolution. And the top highlight is a military parade down the Champs-Elysees. This year, it will feature a France-Singapore combined fly-past.
The visit comes as France and Singapore commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s advanced jet training in Cazaux Air Base, and as they expand innovation partnerships during the 2018 France-Singapore Year of Innovation.
PM Lee and Mr Macron will issue a France-Singapore Road Map for deepening cooperation in digital innovation, Internet governance and cyber security. Several bilateral agreements in the areas of innovation, artificial intelligence, research and development, student exchanges and energy will also be signed in conjunction with the visit.
PM Lee will also attend a reception with overseas Singaporeans.
In a Facebook post yesterday, PM Lee said France was one of the first countries to recognise Singapore's independence in 1965. "Since then, France has become one of our strategic partners. We have strong cooperation in many areas - economy, defence, education and people-to-people ties."
He said he is honoured to be attending the Bastille Day parade, and looks forward to seeing the RSAF M-346s and the Singapore flag flying during the parade.
Accompanying PM Lee on the visit are Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann and officials from the Prime Minister's Office and other ministries.