SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid his respects to the late King—Father of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, on Sunday.
Mr Lee laid a wreath on behalf of the government and people of Singapore as a mark of respect to the late former king at the royal palace, where the revered ex—monarch is lying in state after his body was brought back to his homeland on Wednesday.
He died in Beijing on Monday at the age of 89, after suffering a heart attack.
Mr Lee, who was accompanied by his wife Ho Ching, also sent condolences to the late king’s son, King Norodom Sihamoni and the late king’s wife, Queen Norodom Monineath, during a royal audience.
Prime Minister Lee also met his Cambodian counterpart, Mr Hun Sen.
In a condolence message following the death of ex—king Sihanouk, Mr Lee described him as a compassionate statesman who strived tirelessly to bring peace and prosperity to the people of Cambodia.
He said his wisdom and devotion were enduring sources of strength and comfort for the Cambodian people.
Mr Lee added that Singapore will never forget the crucial role the late former king had played in fostering the enduring friendship between Singapore and Cambodia.
Stressing that Cambodia has always been a close friend of Singapore, Mr Lee said Singapore remembers with gratitude Cambodia as one of the first countries to recognise the new republic when it became independent in 1965.
Mr Lee said: "At that time, he was the head of the government in Cambodia and because of the close relationship with us, and particularly with Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, they responded immediately once the news was out that we had become independent, and on that basis we have built up our friendly ties with Cambodia over the years."
Mr Lee said he met King Sihanouk twice — in 1967 and 1982. The first time was when then—Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew visited Cambodia with the family.
Mr Lee said: "I remember him showing us Phnom Penh then with great pride in an open top car and showing us the facilities he was building, the sports stadium and how the city was prospering.
"The second time I met him was in 1982, the CGDK was organising and gearing up for the fight and there was one meeting which was held in Singapore and I attended one of the dinners, I was in the SAF and we were watching the developments in Cambodia closely."
Several world leaders, including those from the region, have been arriving in Phnom Penh to pay their last respects to the late former king, who will lie in state at the royal palace for three months, followed by an elaborate funeral.
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