WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mrs Lee have arrived for a state dinner at the White House, capping off an official visit that has featured some of the grandest official ceremonies the US has to offer.
They arrived at the White House at 7pm on Tuesday (7am Wednesday Singapore time) in a black limousine bearing flags of the US and Singapore. PM Lee and Mrs Lee were received by President Barack Obama and Mrs Obama.
PM Lee was dressed in a tuxedo while Mrs Lee was in a red and gold kebaya.
Some 200 guests are expected for the glitzy black-tie dinner which will feature entertainment from American singer-songwriter Chrisette Michele.
Among the guests from Singapore at the dinner are Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Industry Minister S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, as well as MPs Christopher de Souza and Rahayu Mahzam.
And in a reflection of the broad relationship Singapore has with the US, the Singapore delegation includes leaders from the military and business like Singapore Airlines chairman Stephen Lee, Keppel Corp CEO Loh Chin Hua and Lieutenant-Colonel Wong Shi Ming, commanding officer, 3rd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
The US delegation includes top Cabinet officials as well as actress Keri Russell, actor Matthew Rhys, author Amy Tan, AOL chief executive Timothy Armstrong and prominent former congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
This is the 12th state dinner President Obama has hosted and the first one for a leader from a South-east Asian country. State dinners are considered among the highest diplomatic honours the US government.
The menu includes a salad featuring heirloom tomatoes and lime basil from the White House Kitchen Garden; a Maryland blue crab salad; and an American way beef tenderloin drizzled with a lemongrass demi-glace.
The tables will be decorated with arrangements of yellow flowers including yellow orchids and roses. Yellow symbolises the friendship between the two countries, said chief florist Hedieh Ghaffarian.
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