WASHINGTON (AP) — High-end American beef and yellow blossoms will feature prominently at the first White House state dinner for Singapore in more than three decades.
Floral arrangements for Tuesday's black-tie soiree honoring Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife, Ho Ching, will consist of yellow orchids, yellow roses and other yellow flowers.
American Wagyu beef dressed with roasted yams, wilted kale and heirloom carrots will anchor the main course for some 200 guests seated on black chairs at round tables in the East Room.
White House officials previewed President Barack Obama's 3rd state dinner of the year, and 12th overall, on Friday.
Yellow symbolizes the friendship between the U.S. and Singapore, said chief florist Hedieh Ghaffarian.
Lee's official visit will mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Singapore. Daniel Krittenbrink, a White House adviser on policy toward Asia, described the southeast Asian country as "one of our strongest, closest and most reliable partners."
The U.S. and Singapore are partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement, which includes 10 other countries but is stalled in Congress and opposed by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the respective Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.
Singapore is also a member of the U.S.-led coalition trying to eradicate the Islamic State group, and both signed onto last year's Paris climate agreement. More than 3,500 U.S. companies have a presence in Singapore, Krittenbrink said.
Dinner will open with Maryland blue crab salad tossed in an Asian citrus curd and rimmed with slivered baby cucumbers. The salad course will showcase heirloom tomatoes from Ohio paired with lime basil from Michelle Obama's garden, as well as mangoes, cucumbers, green papayas and soursop sorbet.
Dessert is peach sangria cake accented with coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves, a citrus fruit native to Asia, and dressed with White House honey. Pastry chef Susie Morrison also showed off the hand-made, spun-sugar orchids and roses she prepared for sharing at each table.
California and New York red, white and sparkling wines will be served.
After dinner, R&B and soul singer-songwriter Chrisette Michele is scheduled to entertain guests.
The White House last held a state dinner for Singapore in October 1985, during Ronald Reagan's presidency, for Lee's late father, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, according to the White House Historical Association.
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