Mon, Jul 12, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Singaporean minister on low-key visit

UNDER WRAPS Lee Hsien Loong, who is slated to be appointed as Singapore's prime minister next month, is expected to meet President Chen Shui-bian today

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, left, visits the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

Premier Yu Shyi-kun hosted a luncheon yesterday in honor of Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), who arrived in Taipei on Saturday night for a low-profile private visit.

Lee, who has been appointed by Singapore's ruling People's Action Party to succeed Goh Chok Tong (吳作棟) as prime minister later next month, is widely expected to meet President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) today to exchange views on matters of mutual concern, although this could not be confirmed, as both the government and Presidential Office remained tight-lipped yesterday.

The Presidential Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to reveal Lee's itinerary during his three-day stay in Taipei.

Lee, who is accompanied by his wife, Ho Ching (何晶), and Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean (張志賢), yesterday paid an inspection visit to Singapore's representative office in Taipei, following which he attended the luncheon hosted by Yu.

The Executive Yuan declined to reveal what had been discussed during the three-hour luncheon, and Lee did not make any public statement.

Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday said he was delighted that Lee could visit Taiwan prior to assuming the premiership next month.

Su said that it was not unusual that Lee should visit Taiwan, given the good relations and exchanges between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday confirmed that he would meet Lee today.

Lien said that he has been friends with Lee for years, and that, since no specific topic had been set for their meeting, "anything can be talked about."

KMT Spokeswoman Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) said that Lien is scheduled to have dinner with Lee tonight, but refused to reveal where the dinner will take place.

Military sources said yesterday that Defense Minister Lee Jye (李傑) will meet with Teo this week to exchange views on promoting further military exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

Teo is a member of the delegation accompanying Lee.

A local Chinese-language newspaper yesterday quoted unidentified sources as saying that Lee, who recently paid a visit to Beijing, might "give his own views and bring messages" from Chinese leaders on how to resolve the cross-strait political standoff during his meeting with Chen.

Lee is the son of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀). Despite the lack of formal ties, Singapore has maintained close relations with Taiwan since the days when Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister. The elder Lee used to visit Taiwan every year, often visiting Taiwan after he had visited China -- reportedly passing messages between Beijing and Taipei.

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