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Australia's Turnbull in Singapore for official visit
AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull begins his first official visit to Singapore on Friday. It will be a three-day trip to attend the Singapore-Australia Leaders' Summit with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
This is the second such summit under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) agreement signed in 2015, the same year the two countries marked 50 years of bilateral relations.
Mr Turnbull's delegation in Singapore includes his wife Lucy, Defence Minister Marise Payne, and officials from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Department of Defence.
Mr Turnbull, 62, is the leader of the Liberal Party and took office as Australia's 29th Prime Minister in September 2015.
A welcome ceremony at the Istana will be held in his honour on Friday morning, after which he will call on President Tony Tan Keng Yam and meet Mr Lee, who will host him to an official lunch.
Later on Friday, Mr Turnbull will deliver the keynote address at the annual Shangri-la Dialogue organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Australian leader's visit reflects the "excellent state" of bilateral relations between Singapore and Australia.
There has been a series of high-level visits between the two nations in recent years. Dr Tan made a state visit in June 2014, and Mr Lee visited Brisbane for the annual G20 Summit in November that year.
Then-Australian prime minister Tony Abbott was in Singapore for an official visit in June 2015, during which he and Mr Lee signed the landmark CSP agreement at the Istana.
Three months later, Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove made a state visit to Singapore.
In 2016, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan visited Australia twice - once for his introductory visit, and another time to attend the Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee meeting.
Mr Lee's last visit to Australia was in last October, for the inaugural leaders' summit in Canberra. He also addressed the joint sitting of Australia's parliament.
In terms of economic links, the latest figures show that bilateral trade amounted to S$18.2 billion last year. Australia was Singapore's 13th-largest trading partner, and Singapore was Australia's 11th-largest.
Singapore is Australia's fifth-largest foreign investor, with the Republic's stock of direct investment reaching A$98.9 billion (S$101.2 billion)in 2015.