President Tan plants a tree to mark friendship with Australia

CANBERRA - President Tony Tan Keng Yam kicked off a six-day state visit to Australia yesterday with a tree-planting ceremony at the National Arboretum here.

Accompanied by his wife Mary, Dr Tan shovelled soil and poured water over a pink silk tree, specially chosen as its flowers are similar to those of Singapore's native rain tree.

Speaking before the ceremony began, Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, who had called on Dr Tan earlier in the afternoon, said the two had discussed the friendship between both countries. "And what greater way to symbolise that than a planting of a tree forever to remind visitors at the National Arboretum just how important that friendship is," she said.

The National Arboretum houses a collection of some 48,000 planted trees from more than 100 countries for scientific, conservational, educational and research purposes. It was opened last year.

Earlier in the day, Dr Tan was welcomed on arrival at the Royal Australian Air Force Fairbairn Airbase by Australia's High Commissioner to Singapore Philip Green and representatives from the Australian Governor-General's Office and Australia's Department of the Prime Minister.

Today, he will be hosted to a state lunch by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and will lay a wreath at the Australian War Memorial.

This article was first published on June 17, 2014.
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