Merkel praises Singapore over human rights

1st December 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 December 2005, BERLIN - Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was taxed by journalists during an official trip to Germany Thursday on the imminent execution in Singapore of an Australian of Vietnamese extraction for trying to smuggle 400 grams of heroin.

1 December 2005

BERLIN - Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was taxed by journalists during an official trip to Germany Thursday on the imminent execution in Singapore of an Australian of Vietnamese extraction for trying to smuggle 400 grams of heroin.

He described the offence committed by Nguyen Tuong Van as "very serious" and said it had passed through the full judicial process.

"The government decided that the law must take its course, and it will take its course," Lee said.

"We have to uphold the rule of law," he said, rejecting charges of "barbarism" levelled in the Australian press.

Nguyen was to be hanged at dawn Friday.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Lee highlighted strong bilateral ties and pledged to enhance relations between the two countries following discussions in Berlin Thursday.

Lee said Singapore backed strong German involvement in the Asia- Pacific region and invited the newly installed German chancellor to visit Singapore at the first opportunity.

Merkel described Singapore as a "very important partner of Germany in Southeast Asia".

"We want to enhance cooperation in science and research," she said, adding that both countries saw investment in these areas as the route to prosperity.

Regarding the deadlock in World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, Lee said Singapore was "even more interested in success than Germany", as it was more dependent on trade.

Merkel noted that the European Union's position ahead of WTO talks in Hong Kong this month still had to be fully worked out.

"The general thrust is that we want success as much Singapore does," Merkel said, pointing to a recent agreement on cutting E.U. subsidies to the sugar sector as a possible basis.

Merkel said the two countries were agreed on the need to combat international terrorism and on the need to safeguard human rights.

The German chancellor went out of her way to thank Singapore for standing up for human rights in the region.

Lee, who arrived in Berlin late Tuesday, held talks with Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck Wednesday and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Thursday.

He was to fly to Stuttgart, where a visit to the Robert Bosch engineering company was scheduled for Friday, the last day of the visit to Germany.

DPA

Subject: German news

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