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April 10, 1973

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and President Richard M. Nixon held discussions emphasizing continued close cooperation between the United States and Singapore and other allies in Asia and the Pacific.

The State Dinner’s menu featured roast beef tenderloin aux champignons, seafood merlion supreme, béarnaise sauce, Bibb lettuce salad, brie cheese and crepe suzettes. Guests included ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, actor Glenn Ford and tobacco heiress Doris Duke, with entertainment provided by Metropolitan Opera soprano Mary Costa. The president introduced the Knoxville-born Ms. Costa as one who “has all the strengths of Ireland, Italy and Tennessee—and that’s something.”

President Gerald R. Ford with guests including Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew, golfer Arnold Palmer, and actress Eva Gabor at a State Dinner Honoring Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, May 8, 1975.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

May 8, 1975

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — Menu items for this State Dinner for 114 guests included gazpacho, filet of beef, bouquet of vegetables, Bibb lettuce salad with watercress, Bel Paese cheese, vanilla ice cream with strawberries flambé, and demitasse. Among the celebrity guests were comedian Red Skelton, actress Eva Gabor and operatic soprano Beverly Sills. Entertainment was provided in the East Room by Edward Villella and Violette Vedry, both of the New York City Ballet. The pleasant evening weather allowed guests to have after-dinner drinks out on the South Portico overlooking the South Lawn. 

President Ronald Reagan, First Lady Nancy Reagan, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, and Mrs. Lee stand on the North Portico, October 8, 1985.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

October 8, 1985

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — In their talks Prime Minister Lee and President Ronald Reagan discussed international economic issues and expansion of international free trade. 

In his remarks at the State Dinner, President Ronald Reagan remarked, “It was a great pleasure for me today to renew a valued friendship with Prime Minister Lee. I first met the Prime Minister on a trip that I took on behest of President Nixon. And when we stopped in Singapore, I was amazed at the dynamic society that I found there.” Soon after President Reagan’s remarks, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew spoke and said, “The Prime Minister. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, ladies and gentlemen, my wife and I are much honored and delighted to be here with you, enjoying your warm hospitality. We would like to express our special thanks to Mrs. Reagan, for we learned of her personal interest in the preparations for this splendid occasion. It is a rare and gracious First Lady who would personally settle and approve the menu, the wines, the floral arrangements, and the entertainment.”

One guest noted that First Lady Nancy Reagan, wearing a grape and gold silk dress, “looked gorgeous, so gentle, so elegant, so appropriate.” Notable guests included Raquel Welch, Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, and Michael J. Fox.

August 2, 2016

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mrs. Lee Hsien Loong.  Loong was in Washington D.C. on an official visit to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Counter-ISIL coalition, and the Paris Climate agreement. The dinner was held in the East Room and followed by entertainment in the State Dining Room. Singer and songwriter Chrisette Michele performed for the Obamas, the Prime Minister and his wife, and the other 177 guests in attendance.

The State Dinner menu consisted of the following dishes:  for the first course Maryland Blue Crab; for the salad course a Tomato Salad with cucumber, pickled green mangoes, papaya, soursop sorbet, and lime basil; for the main course an American Wagyu Beer Tenderloin, seared in Vermont butter and paired with California Asian yams and heirloom carrots; and for dessert peach sangria cake accented with palm sugar, coconut milk, and kaffir lime leaves. The cake was garnished with a fluffy honey meringue; this honey came from the White House beehive.

The décor centered on the color yellow to symbolize the friendship between the United States and Singapore; flower arrangements, centerpieces, and tablecloths utilized this color theme and pattern throughout the White House.  Prime Minister Loong gave a short toast to President Obama while highlighting how the United States and Singapore have cultivated diplomatic and economic relationships over the last five decades:  “To mark the 50th anniversary of our relations, Singapore has named an orchid hybrid in honor of President and Mrs. Obama, and this is the hybrid of breeds native to Singapore and Hawaii, where the president was born, most of us believe. We think it’s a fitting tribute to America’s first Pacific president and a beautiful symbol of the flourishing ties between our countries.”

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

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