BEIJING (AP) -- China and Singapore signed a free trade agreement Thursday to bolster their economies ahead of an Asia-Europe summit focusing on the global financial crisis.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the agreement would improve bilateral ties and advance regional cooperation in East Asia, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said the agreement signals that "economic ties between the two countries have entered a new stage," Xinhua said.
Lee is in Beijing to attend the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting, or ASEM, to be held Oct. 24-25.
The summit, held every two years, is expected to seek a consensus ahead of a meeting of world leaders in Washington on Nov. 15 to address the global financial crisis.