France's Hollande in Singapore at start of Asian tour

French President Francois Hollande arrived Sunday in Singapore, the first leg in the final foreign tour of his five-year term, and will go on to Malaysia and Indonesia.

The tour ending Wednesday in Jakarta is dominated by economic and defence issues and is aimed mainly at strengthening ties with a region with high economic potential, according to the presidential palace.

Hollande has made some 230 international trips since 2012 but has only one other major commitment abroad before his term ends in mid-May: the post-Brexit European summit in Brussels on April 29.

About forty business leaders, mostly from small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as Secretary of State for Industry Christophe Sirugue and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian are accompanying him in Southeast Asia.

Hollande will meet French business leaders at the Asia-Pacific campus in Singapore of France's ESSEC business school, before holding talks later Sunday with his Singapore counterpart Tony Tan Keng Yam.

On Monday he will open a forum grouping 170 French start-ups with a presence in Singapore and make a speech on the regional and international situation to the prestigious Singapore Conference.

On Tuesday he travels to Malaysia, which has a continuing relationship with France in defence matters.

Hollande's tour ends Wednesday in Indonesia, where he will make the first visit by a French head of state since Francois Mitterrand in 1986.