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Prime Minister Lee Visiting U.S.

6 July 2005

Las Vegas Sun

SINGAPORE -- Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is visiting the United States today through July 16, Lee's office said. It is the first trip to the United States since he took office in August last year. Lee will visit New York, Washington and Las Vegas, the office said in a statement.

In Las Vegas, Lee will meet with the operators of major casino resorts. The Singapore government earlier this year lifted a longstanding ban on casinos and gave the green light for two integrated resorts that include casinos.

Singapore is considering proposals from major casino operators, including several American operators, before making its pick.

That decision is expected to be made before the end of this year.

In Washington, Lee will meet with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Treasury Secretary John Snow.

He will also meet with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, key members of Congress and American business leaders.

Lee will be accompanied by Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Foreign Minister George Yeo, Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean and National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

Singapore is a close ally of the United States in Asia, and the United States is one of Singapore's biggest export markets.

Lee's visit is expected to focus on boosting defense cooperation, counterterrorism efforts and enhancing economic cooperation, analysts said.

Defense cooperation will likely include plans for an agreement to upgrade defense ties. On the economic front, the two countries already have a bilateral free trade agreement.

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