Prime Minister Narendra Modi who arrived in Singapore early on Sunday to attend the funeral of the city state’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, met several world leaders there, including the Israeli President, who reiterated an invitation to visit Tel Aviv.
Modi, who had decided to attend the funeral within hours of Lee’s death last Monday, met Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin, Australian PM Tony Abbott, former US president Bill Clinton and Governor General of Canada David Johnston.
He also extended condolence in meetings with Singapore’s deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and emeritus senior minister Goh Chok Tong.
Some of these meetings were not planned in advance, sources in New Delhi said, adding that Modi met Abbott and Clinton at the prayer hall where the funeral took place.
Some groundwork was, however, done for Modi’s meeting with Rivlin, sources said. The two reportedly discussed bilateral relations and the ways to take them forward. Ravlin also invited Modi to visit Tel Aviv, foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said. The Prime Minister already has an invitation pending from his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently won a fourth term in office.
Modi is expected to take up the invitation though no dates have been fixed yet. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj may travel to Tel Aviv once the new government settles down.
While the PM’s meetings with Clinton and Abbott were described as courtesy calls, all meetings assume significance. “Personal bonding between world leaders is always important and often helps in improving bilateral ties,” said a source.
In his meetings with Singapore ministers, Modi condoled Lee’s death and said the two nations must work closely. “He said Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s drive for public housing and cleanliness are models for us. Singapore’s deputy prime minister appreciated the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards cooperative competitive federalism,” a government release said.