Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has paid his first official visit to Singapore Tuesday, insisting that Tel Aviv is seeking greater ties across Asia. “Israel is pivoting towards Asia in a very clear and purposeful way,” Netanyahu declared in a Monday press briefing and dinner event hosted by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who became his country’s first head of state to visit Tel Aviv last year.
The Israeli official underlined that the Tel Aviv regime cooperates with Singapore in the fields of economy, trade and technology.
Netanyahu further said a joint research and development fund with Singapore had already funded 150 projects. Lee, in turn, said he had a “full discussion” with Netanyahu on the Middle East developments and the desire for progress in negotiations between Tel Aviv and the Palestinians, which stalled in 2014.
“People all over the world are seized with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. We ourselves have a significant Muslim population, who are an important part of our harmonious multiracial society,” Lee said.
He reiterated Singapore’s support for a “two-state” solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. “Singapore and Israel are old friends,” he emphasized, noting that the friendship began when the Israeli regime responded to requests to help build Singapore’s military after its independence in 1965. During the visit, Netanyahu also held talks with Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
Netanyahu, who is due to visit Australia on the next leg of his Asia tour, further announced his plans to visit China next month. He also said India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit Tel Aviv later in the year.
Singaporean authorities, however, wanted Netanyahu’s visit to remain low profile over concerns that a high-profile visit could incite protests in neighboring Muslim nations of Malaysia and Indonesia.—Agencies