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Singapore's Prime Minister Honored at White House State Dinner

President Barack Obama, right, and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, talk after toasting each other during a state dinner at the White House in Washington, D.C., Aug. 2, 2016. At left is first lady Michelle Obama.

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Tuesday evening at the White House for a state dinner, a black-tie affair marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Washington and the island nation.

The two countries share close economic and security ties, with more than 3,500 American companies maintaining a presence in the Asian city state.

Both countries signed onto the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, and Singapore was the first country of Southeast Asia to join the fight against Islamic State extremists.

The 12th state dinner of the Obama presidency opened with Maryland blue crab salad tossed in an Asian citrus curd, with lime basil from Michelle Obama's White House garden and heirloom tomatoes from Ohio, followed by a main course including Wagyu beef, roasted yams and wilted kale.

Lee, his wife, Ho Ching, and 200 guests — celebrities from business and media, as well as government officials — were entertained by singer-songwriter Chrisette Michele.

The last U.S. state dinner for Singapore occurred in 1985, when then-President Ronald Reagan hosted Lee's late father, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.