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Old 2016-08-02, 09:52   Link #1
Pillager of Twilight
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Rivers In the Desert
Age: 28
Singapore's 50-year relationship with US to be celebrated at White House state dinner

Singapore's 50-year relationship with US to be celebrated at White House state dinner

When Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong joins U.S. President Barack Obama for a state dinner of American Wagyu beef at the White House on Tuesday, it will be a diplomatic coup for the small city-state.

Obama has thrown just 11 state dinners since he became president in 2009, in stark contrast compared to 1960s predecessor Lyndon Johnson, who held 54 state dinners in a single presidential term.

Singapore will be the first Southeast Asian country to have a political leader honored with a U.S. state dinner, and only the fifth Asian nation after India, China, Japan and South Korea.

And it is expected to be a lavish affair, with a preview of the menu showing it will include lime basil from first lady Michelle Obama's own garden, plus a dessert of peach sangria cake accented with coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves in celebration of Asia, and a performance by U.S. singer Chrisette Michelle.

"These state dinners are extremely rare ... The fact that Singapore has been invited for such a visit and the state dinner is a tremendous compliment," Judith Fergin, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore), explained.

With anti-trade and protectionist rhetoric playing a prominent part in the U.S. presidential election, with both the GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton criticizing the TPP, there have been concerns that after seven years of negotiations, the deal would be scuppered.

In June, Singapore's Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan highlighted the importance of the TPP to U.S.-Asia relations, telling a forum in Washington that "many leaders in Asia have gone out on a limb to support the TPP" and that the trade deal would be a litmus test to America's commitment to Asia, The Straits Times reported.

Ahead of Prime Minister Lee's visit to the U.S., a White House press secretary said that discussions at the stake dinner would focus on how the two leaders could push for "rule-based order" in the Asia Pacific.
Singapore-US ties will remain steadfast, regardless of election outcome: PM Lee

In a short speech at the White House South Lawn, where US President Barack Obama welcomed the Prime Minister at an official arrival ceremony before their meeting in the Oval Office, Mr Lee said Singapore will maintain its bipartisan links with whichever party wins the elections in November.

“We will continue to build and deepen our economic and security relationships. We are partners in tackling the scourge of ISIS and other forms of violent extremism. Our armed forces take part in exercises together and interact regularly,” he said.
As the US rebalanced its foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific, Mr Obama noted that "Singapore - and Prime Minister Lee in particular - have been solid-rock partners".

"Singapore is an anchor of our presence in the region – we stand together for a regional order where every nation large and small plays and trades by the same rules and we stand together to meet the threats of the 21st century from terrorism to the spread of disease to climate change," said Mr Obama. "In this work, we draw strength from our people – two societies built on multiculturalism and on merit."

The US President added: "In the US, we call ourselves a melting pot of different races and religions and creeds. In Singapore, it is ‘rojak’ – different parts united in a harmonious whole. We’re bound by the belief that no matter who you are, if you work hard and play by the rules you will make it. What Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once said of his country can be said of us: Both are populations of triers, prepared to try anything to improve ourselves. We have only the future to go in quest of."
I want to hear Obama say rojak now.

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