Australian leader meets PM Lee

Visiting Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana yesterday, during which the two leaders reaffirmed the excellent bilateral ties between their countries.

Sir Peter, who arrived on Monday for a four-day state visit, and Mr Lee also discussed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) agreement, which was signed by the two countries in June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The CSP is a broad-ranging agreement to boost co-operation across multiple fields, including economics and trade, defence and security, foreign affairs and at the people- to-people level.

At the meeting, Sir Peter expressed his appreciation for Singa- pore's support for the New Colombo Plan, which was launched in 2013 and which offers Australian undergraduates scholarships and grants to study in Asian countries, including Singapore.

The two leaders discussed global and regional developments, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group.

Sir Peter's visit comes as Singapore and Australia celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Earlier yesterday, Sir Peter was hosted to lunch by the Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen.

Sir Peter's day began at the Kranji War Cemetery, where he attended a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate Australians who died in the line of duty during World War II.

Accompanied by his wife Lynne and children from the Avondale Grammar School in Singapore, he later visited the four koalas on loan from Australia at the Singapore Zoo. The female marsupials arrived here in April as part of celebrations to mark bilateral ties.

Yesterday evening, Sir Peter graced an alumni homecoming event for Singaporean graduates of Australian universities hosted by Australian Alumni Singapore (AAS) and the Australian High Commission.

The event celebrates the return of Singaporean graduates from 28 Australian universities and connects them with public and private sector employers and stakeholders across 12 industries, the AAS and the Australian High Commission said in a statement. To date, more than 130,000 Singaporeans have attained an Australian qualification, the statement added.

Today, the Governor-General and his wife will visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid hybrid will be named after them.

There, they will also view a flight of stairs that was built by Australian prisoners of war during the Japanese Occupation.

Sir Peter had on Monday paid a courtesy call on President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana. Dr Tan then hosted a state banquet in honour of the Governor-General.

This article was first published on September 23, 2015.
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