Singapore, Mar 29: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday lauded Singapore's founder and first premier Lee Kuan Yew as a "global thinker" and said India deeply valued his friendship and his support for its economic progress.
Modi, who arrived here this morning to attend the State Funeral Services of Lee, said the former Singapore Prime Minister was "among the tallest leaders of our times".
91-year-old Lee died of severe pneumonia on March 23. Noting that Singapore's transformation in one generation is a tribute to Lee's leadership, Modi said his death marks the end of an era.
"He inspired not just Southeast Asia, but all of Asia, to believe in its own destiny," he said.
"In the 50th anniversary year of Singapore's independence, I am sure that he (Lee) left satisfied with Singapore's achievements and confident about its future." Modi underlined India's relations with Singapore, saying it "is one of our strongest relationships" in the world.
"India's integration with Southeast Asia and beyond is growing. Singapore is a key pillar of India's Act East Policy," the prime minister said.
Modi also held two meetings with Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shamugaratnam this morning, conveying his condolences to the Singapore leaders and people.
"I am visiting Singapore at a sad moment," said Modi. "He (Lee) was a global thinker, who saw things ahead of others. He was an advocate of economic progress, but also made tireless efforts to advance peace and stability in our region.
"We deeply valued his friendship and his support for India's economic progress and global role," he said, adding Lee "believed in India's potential more than many of us did."
Lee's "vision is coming true. The seeds he sowed are bearing fruits today," said Modi, who had earlier visited Singapore as Gujarat Chief Minister in October 2006.