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Singapore inks three pacts with Turkmenistan during state visit of its leader

[SINGAPORE] Turkmenistan may have development experiences and a social make-up that are different from Singapore's, but there are areas where they can cooperate, said President Halimah Yacob on Tuesday, citing tourism, business and capacity building.

Pointing to the white marble architecture of its capital Ashgabat and its famed city of Ancient Merv along the Silk Road, President Halimah said the Central Asian Republic had immense potential to attract more visitors.

Speaking at a state banquet for Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow, Singapore's President also underlined the importance of ensuring that the nine commercial agreements inked on Monday are implemented.

"Success stories would help to generate more interest in our respective markets and more business interactions," she added at the Istana banquet.

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The memorandums of understanding, signed on Monday at the inaugural Singapore-Turkmenistan business forum, included one on the development of the chemical and fertiliser sectors in Turkmenistan and another for cooperation between higher education institutions.

The Association of Banks in Singapore and the State Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs of Turkmenistan also signed a cooperation agreement to strengthen collaboration in banking and financial services, including cross-border money transfers and payments.

The banquet rounded off Mr Berdimuhammedow's two-day state visit to Singapore, during which the two nations signed three pacts.

Two were on the avoidance of double taxation and mutual exemption of visa requirements for diplomatic, official or service passport holders, and the other was a memorandum of understanding on legal cooperation.

President Berdimuhammedow, in his banquet speech, said both countries shared a desire to strengthen peace and stability, and to build a fair system of international ties in the interest of all.

He noted that discussions during his visit were defined by mutual understanding and constructiveness, adding: "Turkmenistan and Singapore are building their relations on the principles of equality, deep mutual respect, trust and openness. This will help us in achieving the results on all discussed items and find concrete solutions."

The Turkmenistan President, on his first state visit here, was accompanied by his country's senior Cabinet ministers and government officials.

On Tuesday afternoon, he received a formal welcome ceremony at the Istana and paid President Halimah a courtesy call.

He also met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and briefed him on Turkmenistan's priorities, including developing its infrastructure and connectivity, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement. Both leaders also affirmed the close cooperation between the two countries in various international fora, it added.

Earlier in the day, he met Singapore business leaders, including those from DP Architects, DBS Bank, Surbana Jurong, Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation.

They discussed possible business opportunities in construction, logistics, chemical and other sectors.

The Turkmenistan President also visited the Asian Civilisations Museum and toured its galleries on different types of faith and belief across Asia. He leaves Singapore on Tuesday night.

THE STRAITS TIMES