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Trump to host Singapore PM at White House later this month

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. — TODAY picSingapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. — TODAY picWASHINGTON, OCT 11 — US President Donald Trump will host Singapore’s prime minister in Washington later this month, the White House said yesterday, with North Korea likely topping the agenda.

In a statement announcing Lee Hsien Loong’s October 23 White House visit, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the meeting would reaffirming ties with “one of America’s closest partners in Asia for more than 50 years”.

Singapore has long positioned itself as something of a cultural and political translator, helping bridge differences between the United States and China.

But Trump’s head-on approach with Beijing and his moves to jettison a trans-Pacific trade deal, which included Singapore, has cast the relationship into doubt. 

Trump has also taken a harder line on partners’ dealings with the regime in North Korea, which could have an outsized impact on Singapore — a major banking hub for the Asia-Pacific region.

“The president and prime minister will discuss ways to further strengthen our economic, political, security and people-to-people ties, and work to advance United States engagement and mutual interests throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” Sanders said.

Earlier this year, the US Treasury designated two Singapore based firms for ties with Pyongyang’s weapons programmes. — AFP

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