PM Lee attends opening ceremony of Commonwealth leaders meeting

PM Lee Hsien Loong (second from right) and other heads of state including (from left) Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Eswatini's King Mswati III and Namibian President Hage Gottfried Geingob watching a performance in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 24, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

KIGALI - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) opening ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda, on Friday (June 24).

The ceremony, held at the Kigali Convention Centre, marked the official start of the summit that is being held for the first time in four years.

Chogm, usually a biennial event, was postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was last held in London in 2018.

PM Lee arrived in Rwanda on Thursday morning and attended a state banquet and welcome reception hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the evening.

In a Facebook post, he said he also went for a walk at a car-free zone in the city centre on Thursday.

"Went on a short #jalanjalan at the Kigali Car Free Zone aka Imbuga City Walk yesterday afternoon to shake off the jet lag and get a feel of the city before the Welcome Reception and State Banquet hosted by Rwanda President Paul Kagame. Took in the sights, sounds and the wonderful smiles of the city," said PM Lee in a post on Friday.

He added that the summit was officially open, and that he looked forward to further discussions.

On the sidelines of the summit on Friday, PM Lee had meetings with Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. PM Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin said the two leaders exchanged views on regional and international developments. They also discussed how India can engage South-east Asia, and the areas that Singapore and India can cooperate in as countries recover from the pandemic.

PM Lee also met World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, where he reiterated Singapore's support for reforming and strengthening the WTO. Ms Chang said they also discussed developments in international trade and reaffirmed the importance of global cooperation for the benefit of all countries.

Also on Friday, PM Lee met Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio, Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis and Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah.

PM Lee will attend events at Chogm till Saturday, and will remain in Kigali for an official bilateral visit on Sunday and Monday, where he will hold talks with President Kagame.

Chogm this year will see leaders from 54 countries gathering in Kigali and is expected to attract more than 5,000 participants, including government officials, business leaders and civil society representatives.

Key issues expected to be discussed by the leaders include sustainability, Covid-19 recovery and economic vulnerability.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.