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Singaporean PM, Hosting Netanyahu, Endorses 'Two-State' Plan

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speak at the Istana or Presidential Palace in Singapore, Feb. 20, 2017.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, hosting a visit by his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Monday his country believes in a "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lee explained his stand at a joint news briefing with Netanyahu, who does not endorse the two-nation approach. Lee said he realizes a two-state solution is difficult to achieve, but said it is the only way to achieve peace.

Netanyahu's official visit is the first to Singapore by an Israeli head of government. Last year Lee became the first Singaporean prime minister to visit Israel.

Netanyahu referred to Singapore and Israel at the news conference as being "kindred spirits." Both nations are small, with significant defense and high-tech industries. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1969, but have ties dating back to 1965, when Israeli military advisers covertly assisted Singapore after its declaration of independence.

Acknowledging the "very complex situation" between Palestinians and Israel, Lee called for direct negotiations that will ensure "progress toward a just and durable solution to this long-standing and often, unfortunately violent conflict."

"We have consistently believed that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, however hard to achieve, is the only way to bring peace and security to both peoples," Lee said.

Netanyahu did not mention tensions in the Middle East in his remarks at the news briefing, after which questions were not allowed.