Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in Singapore on an Official Visit, received a ceremonial welcome at the Istana this morning. Prime Minister Netanyahu called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Prime Minister Lee will host an Official Dinner for Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Istana this evening. Prime Minister Netanyahu also met Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean and several Cabinet Ministers over lunch today.

President Tan and Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed the strong and longstanding ties between Singapore and Israel and exchanged views on regional and international developments.

During their meeting, Prime Minister Lee expressed appreciation for Israel's assistance in building up Singapore's defence capabilities in the early years after Singapore's independence, and welcomed the growing bilateral relationship including cooperation in areas such as research and development, technical cooperation, housing policy and education.

On developments in the Middle East, Prime Minister Lee reiterated Singapore's longstanding and consistent position on the two-state solution, including Singapore's support for Israel's right to live within secure borders and in peace and also the right of the Palestinian people to a homeland. Both sides should exercise restraint and be prepared to make compromises in order to achieve a lasting peace. Prime Minister Lee further expressed Singapore's hope that the Israelis and the Palestinians would resume direct negotiations to find a just, durable and comprehensive solution to this longstanding conflict.

During their lunch, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo and Prime Minister Netanyahu exchanged views on regional developments in Asia and the Middle East, including the Middle East Peace Process.

Prime Minister Netanyahu departs Singapore for Australia tomorrow.