PM Lee caps off official visit to US with state dinner at the White House

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The Obamas and Prime Minister and Mrs Lee of Singapore toast 'onward Singapore' to strong relations at one of the last state dinners for US President Barack Obama.
(From left) Mrs Lee, Mrs Obama, Mr Lee Hsien Loong and President Obama arriving at the White House for the state dinner. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
US President Barack Obama (2nd left) and First Lady Michelle Obama (left) greet Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) and his wife, Mrs Lee (2nd right) on the North Portico of The White House before a state dinner on Aug 2, 2016 in Washington, District of Columbia. PHOTO: AFP
Mrs Obama greets Mrs Lee before the state dinner on Aug 2. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Mr and Mrs Obama arrive at the White House for the state dinner on Aug 2. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Mr Lee Hsien Loong and President Obama entering the White House on Aug 2. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
PM Lee Hsien Loong (second from right), Mrs Lee Hsien Loong (left), First Lady Michelle Obama and US President Barack Obama pose for photos before the state dinner at the White House. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mrs Lee before a state dinner at The White House on Aug 2, in Washington, District of Columbia. PHOTO: AFP
Actors Keri Russell and Matthews Rhys arrive for a State Dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama for Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House in Washington, US on Aug 2. PHOTO: REUTERS
Senator Bill Nelson and Ms Grace Nelson arrive at a State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore at the White House in Washington on Aug 2, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
Author Amy Tan arrives for a State Dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama for Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House in Washington, US on Aug 2. PHOTO: REUTERS
US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Ms. Shirley Gathers arrive at a State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore at the White House in Washington on Aug 2. PHOTO: AFP

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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