Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is on a landmark visit to Israel leading a 60-member delegation. This is the first-ever visit by a Singaporean head of state to Israel.
Lee is landing on 18 April for a four-day official visit at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Besides his wife, Lee is also accompanied by the city-state's foreign minister and water resources minister. Lee's visit was kept under wraps until the final days.
The two parties established diplomatic ties in 1969, four years after Singapore was founded. However, a top Singaporean head has not yet visited Israel despite warm relations. His visit also symbolises Israel is increasingly looking at Asian nations in the wake of its strained relationship with the Western world.
Lee, who will receive an honorary doctorate at the Hebrew University, is also set to visit Temple Mount, the flashpoint site in the city of Jerusalem. After holding talks with Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and former president Shimon Peres, Lee is also scheduled to travel to West Bank to speak to Palestinian leaders. Rivlin visited Singapore in March 2015 paying tributes to Lee's father Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore.
The Singaporean premier had earlier travelled to Jordan and met King Abdullah following which both of them urged Israel and Palestine to hold direct negotiations and come up with an effective two-state solution.
Singapore is also one of Israel's main purchasers of military hardware. Lee will also meet heads of major Israeli companies during his visit.