JERUSALEM (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu, making the first visit to Singapore by an Israeli prime minister, met with his counterpart from the Southeast Asian country.
In a statement issued after the meeting Monday with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Netanyahu said he was “following in your footsteps,” in reference to the “historic visit” to Israel by Loong — the first by a Singapore leader.
“I believe that Israel and Singapore are kindred spirits,” Netanyahu said. “We’re small nations that have become in many areas global powers, and I believe that our cooperation makes us even more successful, cooperation in every field.”
Netanyahu cited a joint R&D fund that has already funded 150 projects for Israeli and Singapore companies working together in a variety of fields.
Israel and Singapore established diplomatic relations in 1969.
Upon his arrival in Singapore early Monday, Netanyahu was met by Loong and a military honor guard. He met with President Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam in a meeting also attended by ministers from both countries.
Among the topics discussed were deepening bilateral cooperation in technology in order to overcome common challenges, as well assistance to African countries in the fields of technology and initiatives, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. Netanyahu raised the issue of opening a direct air route between the two countries and invited the president to visit Israel.
Netanyahu visited a local synagogue and met with representatives of Singapore’s small Jewish community later Sunday.
Singapore requested a low-profile visit, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday, because it is concerned about angering is neighbors, the Muslim-majority countries of Malaysia and Indonesia.