Singapore and France forge closer links and will review strategic partnership annually

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meets his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault at the Matignon, on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013. The strategic partnership between Singapore and France will be reviewed annually as both countries make clear
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meets his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault at the Matignon, on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013. The strategic partnership between Singapore and France will be reviewed annually as both countries make clear their intention to work even more closely on various fronts. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

PARIS - The strategic partnership between Singapore and France will be reviewed annually as both countries make clear their intention to work even more closely on various fronts.

This was the outcome of bilateral talks between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault on Tuesday.

The two prime ministers directed their foreign ministries to do annual reviews of the partnership, which was sealed in October last year when Mr Ayrault visited Singapore.

The meeting between the two men was described by a Singapore delegation spokesman as "very warm".

PM Ayrault recalled his visit to Singapore and both leaders renewed their friendship over the two hour meeting, which included a dinner hosted by Mr Ayrault.

They reviewed the strategic partnership across all fields, including political, economic, defence, education, research and culture.

PM Ayrault expressed France's support for the ratification of the EU-Singapore free trade agreement.

He also expressed French interest to participate in Singapore's expansion of the MRT network, and in the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail project.

Both leaders also looked forward to expanding two-way trade and investment ties.

They supported more student and academic exchanges and also looked forward to celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between France and Singapore in 2015.

On Tuesday, Mr Lee also called on President of the French Senate Jean-Pierre Bel where bilateral co-operation was discussed.

Both men noted the important role their countries have played as founding members of the Asia-Europe Meeting in promoting greater dialogue between Asia and Europe.

Mr Lee invited Mr Bel to visit Singapore and the two leaders welcomed the further strengthening of parliamentary ties.

At the meeting was Senator Marie-Helene Des Esgaulx. Mr Lee thanked her for the warm hospitality shown by her town of Gujan Mestras to the families of Singapore's airforce pilots training at the nearby Cazaux airbase as part of the RSAF's Advanced Jet Training Detachment.

Mr Lee and the delegation leave for Poland on Wednesday.