Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong will be on a three-day official visit to France from today at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, stated a release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
PM Lee will be the guest of honour at the French National Day parade scheduled to be held tomorrow. It will be the first time a Singapore leader is attending the event in that capacity.
It has been the tradition in France that every year, its President invites a country to join in the Bastille Day parade down the famous Champs Elysees on July 14. Last year, President Macron hosted US President Donald Trump at the celebration.
The Bastille Day parade this year will be special as there will be a combined France-Singapore flypast.
In a statement, Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said, “An M-346 advanced jet trainer from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) — manned by two crew members — will roar across the sky alongside five French Air Force Alpha Jets.”
In addition to this, on the ground, a four-man flag party, led by an RSAF contingent commander, will carry the Singapore flag at the parade.
The visit is significant as it comes on the backdrop of both Singapore and France commemorating the 20th anniversary of the RSAF’s Advanced Jet Training in Cazaux Air Base.
Significantly, Singapore is one of the French air force's main allies in Southeast Asia. The country has sent scores of fighter pilots for training in France over the past 20 years.
Meanwhile, PM Lee will also call on and be hosted to dinner by Macron and have a separate meeting with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
Singapore’s Prime Minister will also attend a lunch with French industry leaders and attend a reception with overseas Singaporeans.
“PM Lee and President Macron will issue a France-Singapore Road Map for deepening cooperation in digital innovation, internet governance and cybersecurity. Several bilateral agreements in the areas of innovation, artificial intelligence, research and development, student exchanges, and energy will also be signed in conjunction with the visit,” said PMO in the release.
PM Lee will be accompanied by several ministers and officials during the trip, including Ng Eng Hen, Defence Minister and Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry.
During PM Lee’s absence in Singapore, Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, will be the Acting Prime Minister from July 13 to 16.