President Halimah gets ceremonial welcome in Germany

President Halimah Yacob and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier meeting high school students from the Walther-Rathenau Gymnasium, at Dr Steinmeier's official residence in Berlin on Dec 10, 2019. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

BERLIN - The familiar strains of Majulah Singapura could be heard in the winter cold of Berlin on Tuesday (Dec 10) on the lawns of the historic Schloss Bellevue in a ceremonial welcome to mark the visit of President Halimah Yacob.

She was calling on German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at his official residence on the second day of her five-day state visit to Germany.

She is making the first state visit by a Singapore head of state to Germany at Dr Steinmeier's invitation.

She hosted Dr Steinmeier when he visited Singapore in November 2017, which was the first state visit to the Republic by a German head of state.

At Schloss Bellevue, Madam Halimah and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, were welcomed by Dr Steinmeier and his wife Elke Budenbender.

Madam Halimah and Dr Steinmeier then inspected a guard of honour contingent before interacting with students from the Walther-Rathenau Gymnasium, a German high school located in Berlin.

In her meeting with Dr Steinmeier, she discussed common challenges and scope for more bilateral collaboration in the areas of education and research and development, and also exchanged views on regional and international developments.

After a reception with Dr Steinmeier, Madam Halimah and Mr Mohamed laid a wreath at the foot of the Neue Wache war memorial to honour the victims of war and dictatorship.

The memorial was built in the early 19th century as a tribute to fallen soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars, and also doubled as a guardhouse for royal troops until the end of the German monarchy in 1918.

President Halimah Yacob meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin on Dec 10, 2019. On Madam Halimah's left is Singapore's Ambassador to Germany Laurence Bay. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Madam Halimah also met German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery earlier on Tuesday morning, touching on the free trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore which took effect last month.

Madam Halimah later met Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller, with whom she took a stroll through the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

She is also due to be hosted to a state banquet at the Schloss Bellevue by Dr Steinmeier on Tuesday night.

She departs Berlin for Frankfurt on Wednesday for the next leg of her state visit.

She will visit German companies in Frankfurt and Heidelberg, as well as meet a group of overseas Singaporeans and students from the Institute of Technical Education.

She will also call on Minister-President Volker Bouffier of the Federal State of Hesse in the city of Wiesbaden on Thursday.

On the first day of her visit, Madam Halimah witnessed the signing of 11 memorandums of understanding and agreements between Singaporean and German partners from a variety of sectors.

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