Friends 'in all types of weather'

Friends 'in all types of weather'
After a private lunch at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, showed President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan items related to Singapore from the Royal Collection at the Picture Gallery.

MUCH has changed since Sir Stamford Raffles set up a British trading port in Singapore almost two centuries ago, and from the time Singapore and Britain established diplomatic ties in 1965.

But the bond between both countries has endured and strengthened over the years, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on Tuesday in London during his state visit to the United Kingdom.

"We are friends in all types of weather, whether it is British or Singapore weather," he added.

"Our friendship will undoubtedly prove valuable in the face of emerging global challenges that will impact the future generations of both our countries."

Dr Tan on Tuesday spoke on the common interests and heritage shared by Britain and Singapore, at the Palace of Westminster, the seat of Parliament, and at a state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II in his honour.

Addressing Parliament, he said historical links between Singapore and the United Kingdom had been a strong foundation for bilateral cooperation.

The common strategic outlook and mutual values both countries share have also boosted partnership in the areas of the economy, security and defence, he said.

Singapore and Britain are also proponents of free trade, he noted, adding that the European Union- Singapore free trade agreement will be beneficial once it is ratified.

In the areas of defence and security, both countries also have strong reasons to continue working together, he said, especially in areas such as counter-terrorism and countering transnational crime.

He added that underpinning these bilateral relations are the ties between the people. Many Singaporeans have made Britain their second home and contribute actively to it, he said.

The same is true of the British community in Singapore, and this has boosted the "already deep reservoir of goodwill" between both sides, Dr Tan added.

Later at the state banquet in Buckingham Palace, he invited the Queen, or her representative, to visit Singapore next year as it celebrates 50 years of independence.

During the banquet, the Queen wore the Order of Temasek red and white sash and white star - Singapore's second highest national order - which she received in 1972 when she visited Singapore.

The Queen, in her speech, said Dr Tan's state visit "marks the continued deepening of the relationship between our countries".

"I have no doubt that by maintaining longstanding commitments to openness, fairness and enterprise, this friendship will not only be sustained but will flourish and thrive," she said.

She also announced new scholarships to the United Kingdom for Singaporeans under the newly revived Royal Commonwealth Society of Singapore.


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