S'pore, France sign slew of pacts

S'pore, France sign slew of pacts
French President Francois Hollande (L) welcomes Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam (C) and his wife Mary Tan prior to an official dinner in their honor, on May 18, 2015 at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Singapore and France signed several agreements yesterday to further bilateral co-operation in various fields, including education, nuclear safety, renewable energy and cyber security.

The signings were witnessed by President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his French counterpart, President Francois Hollande, on the second day of Dr Tan's seven-day state visit to France.

Among the pacts inked was a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Singapore's newly formed Cyber Security Agency (CSA) and France's Network and Information Security Agency, which will pave the way for the two to share information and best practices in cyber security.

The MOU is CSA's first international agreement.

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, accompanying Dr Tan on his visit, told reporters the pact gives Singapore a chance to learn from the French and to share its own experience. "To have the French wanting to have this MOU given their vast experience shows the respect they have for our agencies and our capabilities."

Meanwhile, the National University of Singapore (NUS) signed agreements with France's Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety.

These will allow the Singapore Nuclear Research and Safety Initiative, launched by the National Research Foundation last year and hosted at NUS, to work with the French agency in research and training programmes in nuclear safety.

France, which has over 50 nuclear reactors, uses nuclear energy to produce the bulk of its electricity. While Singapore has said existing nuclear energy technologies are not currently suitable for the country, it continues to take part in global and regional talks on nuclear safety.

NUS and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also signed MOUs to deepen collaboration and research with the institutions under France's elite mega-university, Universite Paris-Sarclay.

NTU also signed an agreement to offer a joint PhD programme with the Sorbonne Universites, the second-largest group of universities and research organisations in France. This programme will focus on humanities, engineering and science.

In addition, NTU will work to set up a network on renewable energies with France's National Centre for Scientific Research.

Separately, the Economic Development Board signed a letter of intent with France's National Centre for Space Studies to help develop Singapore's satellite industry.

It was a busy day yesterday for Dr Tan, who also met the president of the French Senate, Mr Gerard Larcher, and attended a banquet held in his honour by Mr Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

On Sunday night, Dr Tan visited the Citadines Suites Arc de Triomphe, which is operated by Singapore serviced apartment group The Ascott. The group announced yesterday that it will double its units in Europe to 10,000 by 2020.

This article was first published on May 19, 2015.
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