The US celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations with Singapore with President Obama hosting a state dinner along with Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Obama honored Loong and his spouse, Ho Ching at the 12th state dinner during his presidency.
More than strategic interests
During his speech, Obama claimed that relations between the 2 countries were not just because of strategic interests in Pacific Asia. He emphasized that the relationship was bound by history, family and friendship. He toasted the Lees by saying that he hopes that they will continue building something special together.
The 2 countries have shared common interests for over 2 centuries, when the US had just gained independence and Singapore was just a colony. They share strong economic ties with over 3500 US companies present in Singapore. They also share security interests as Singapore was the first South Asian country to join the fight against IS (Islamic State).
The attendees of the dinner included various celebrities like Matthew Rhys and Amy Russell. Other Washington officials such as former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Sam’s Club President and CEO Rosalind Brewer and more also attended the dinner.
The press conference
Before the State Dinner, Lee and President Obama hosted a joint press conference where Lee praised the President, as well as America. Obama took the press conference as an opportunity to criticize Trump and urge Republicans to withdraw their support for him.
Lee stated that regardless of this year’s elections outcome, Singapore would continue to have a strong relationship with the US as everything will not be turned upside down. He also described the first time he met Obama and how his focus on Asia strengthened their partnership and made new friends for the US. The nations are part of the Trans-Pacific Trade agreement, which the Prime Minister joked about. He ended his speech by calling the US a great nation with high ideals, openness and generosity.
The dinner itself was sumptuous with Maryland crab salad, American wagyu beef and peach sangria cake being served to the guests White and sparkling wines from California and New York were served. Guests were entertained with R&B soul singer, Chrisette Michelle, after dinner. The last state dinner for Singapore took place in 1985 during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The current Prime Minister’s father, Lee Kuan Yew, was present during the dinner.