Singapore and France signed a strategic partnership agreement on Thursday to take the bilateral cooperation to a higher level. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, upon signing the agreement with visiting French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, said France is the second country to have a such an agreement with Singapore, after the United States. \"It underscores the breadth and depth of our relationship, and reaffirms our shared values and perspectives on international issues. It also reinforces our desire for closer ties between Asia and Europe. I am confident that the strategic partnership will inject fresh impetus to our wide-ranging collaboration, and pave the way for more substantial exchanges in the years to come,\" he said. Ayrault was in Singapore for a two-day visit. France was Singapore\'s second largest trading partner in the European Union, while Singapore is France\'s largest export market in Southeast Asia. The universities of the two countries have extensive links. Agencies from the two nations are jointly organizing a showcase of Singapore\'s arts and culture in Paris. The agreement signed on Thursday also expands the bilateral collaborations in areas like education and cultural exchange. In defense, both countries also conduct regular policy dialogues, joint military exercises and cooperate closely in defense technology. France has been hosting a detachment of Singapore Air Force pilots in Cazaux since 1998.