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Your Excellency Prime Minister Lee,
Distinguished guests from Singapore,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure tonight to extend a very warm welcome to Prime Minister Lee and Mrs. Lee on their State Visit to India. We deeply value Prime Minister Lee’s friendship. His personal commitment and contribution to building a strong and enduring relationship between India and Singapore has been truly inspiring.
Our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, presciently described Singapore in 1946 as a great cosmopolitan city where Asian unity would be forged. It was therefore only fitting that India’s quest for a more substantive engagement with South East Asia and East Asia began in Singapore. The support and wise counsel that we received from Singapore’s leaders during the initial steps in our Look East Policy is something that we still recall with great warmth.
The first Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement signed by India with any country was with Singapore during Your Excellency’s last visit to India. In many ways, India’s relationship with Singapore has been an exemplar for our engagement in the region.
The people of India hold you in high esteem as the worthy leader of a nation of competent, industrious and disciplined people. Singapore has been fortunate to have visionary and energetic leaders who have worked against the odds to build a model nation state. By building and preserving social harmony, stability and growth, they have made the Singapore experience into a brand worthy of emulation around the world, especially by developing countries.
India’s relations with Singapore are rooted in history, driven by the present and inspired by the promise of an even brighter future. Ours is a very special friendship and we are witnessing an extremely dynamic and productive phase in our bilateral relationship. Political and security cooperation, defence ties, economic and financial cooperation and strong cultural linkages underpin our relations. We enjoy convergent perspectives on many international and regional developments.
Singapore has also generously embraced a large Indian community and encouraged them to flourish and prosper as proud citizens of Singapore. Today, India renews its own welcome to Singapore to come to India and take advantage of the many opportunities that our country to offer. I have no doubt that, in the years ahead, our two countries will build ever-deeper connections to the benefit of both our peoples.
Ladies and gentlemen,
May I now invite you to join me in a toast:
- to the good health and personal well-being of Prime Minister Lee and Madam Lee;
- to the happiness and prosperity of the people of Singapore; and
- to everlasting friendship between India and Singapore.