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Shorten apologises to Lee for being late

AAP logoAAP 13/10/2016 Jennifer Rajca

Bill Shorten has apologised to Singapore's prime minister for being late to a scheduled meeting after Labor forced a series of votes in parliament's lower house.

The opposition leader met with Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday morning, alongside his foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong, defence spokesman Richard Marles and the party's trade spokesman Jason Clare.

The pair shared a handshake for the cameras, before Mr Lee thanked Mr Shorten for his very warm words on Wednesday in the House of Representatives and at a later luncheon.

"There's been a little bit of excitement in the House of Representatives this morning so I apologise for being a few minutes late," Mr Shorten began.

The opposition leader said he told parliament very deliberately on Wednesday that Australia had no closer friend in Asia than Singapore.

"That doesn't mean that we don't have very important relationships in Asia," he said.

"That doesn't mean we don't have other very good allies."

But Singapore was a very natural bridge for Australia into Asia because of shared cultural reasons, experiences and history.

"I think for Australians, we regard Singapore as sufficiently different to be novel and sufficiently familiar to be home."

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