Netanyahu began an historic visit to Singapore, the first ever by an Israeli prime minister.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara landed in Singapore on Monday, where they were welcomed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching at the Istana, the official residence of the President of Singapore.
Netanyahu inspected an honor guard and signed the official guestbook before meeting with Singaporean President Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam.
Among the topics discussed were the deepening of bilateral cooperation in technology “in order to overcome common challenges,” as well as assistance to African countries “in the fields of technology and initiatives,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
Singapore’s president noted that both nations started out as small countries lacking in natural resources, but they developed technologies that aided national growth and prosperity.
Netanyahu raised the issue of opening a direct air route between the two countries and invited his host to visit Israel. There are reports that Singapore’s’ national line, considered one of the best in the world, plans to establish a direct flight to Israel.
‘Israel and Singapore are Kindred Spirits’
“I believe that Israel and Singapore are kindred spirits,” Netanyahu stated in a joint press conference with the Singaporean prime minister. ”We’re small nations that have become, in many areas, global powers, and I believe that our cooperation makes us even more successful… We have a joint R&D fund that has already funded 150 projects for Israeli and Singapore companies working together in a variety of fields, and I think that the opportunities are vast.”
“The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel and Singapore are innovation nations, and together we can bring more prosperity, more hope for our peoples and I think for beyond our peoples, for the neighborhoods in which we live. We value the diversity in our societies, we value the pluralism in our societies, and we have much to learn from each other,” he added.
Netanyahu said he wanted to learn from Singapore’s building industry and apply their techniques in Israel, which is contending with a construction shortage.
The Israeli leader had already met Lee last April in Jerusalem, during the first ever-visit by a Singaporean prime minister to Israel.
Israel and Singapore have a robust relationship that includes some $1.35 billion in trade, massive Israeli investments in Singapore, extensive academic and cultural ties and a longstanding, significant military relationship.
Netanyahu is currently on a one-week trip to Singapore and Australia. Before leaving Sunday for the first-ever visit by an Israeli prime minister to either of these countries, he told his cabinet in Jerusalem that the trip was aimed in large part to “open new markets.”
“We will strengthen security, economic and other ties with these countries,” Netanyahu said.
In Australia, Netanyahu will hold meetings with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as well as with Israeli and Australian businessmen.
Netanyahu will spend the weekend in Sydney, departing for Israel on Sunday and arriving back home early Monday morning.
By: Aryeh Savir,World Israel News