India, Singapore navies to step up maritime cooperation as defence ministers meet

Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise, India and Singapore navies today agreed to step up maritime cooperation in terms of regional security, logistics, drills and deployment of warships at each other's naval facilities.

Indian Minister for Defence Nirmala Sitharaman making a press statement after bilateral talks with Def Min of Singapore Dr Ng Eng Hen(right) at South Block on 29 Nov 2017. Also seen are senior military and civilian officials of both the countries. (Photo courtsey: Ministry of Defence)
Indian Minister for Defence Nirmala Sitharaman making a press statement after bilateral talks with Def Min of Singapore Dr Ng Eng Hen(right) at South Block on 29 Nov 2017. Also seen are senior military and civilian officials of both the countries. Photo courtesy: Ministry of Defence

Issuing a joint statement after the Defence Ministers’ Dialogue, the Indian Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman, and Singapore's Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen also looked forward to renewing armies bilateral agreement on the lines of already existing airforce bilateral exercises agreement.

"Of particular significance during this meeting was the conclusion of the India-Singapore Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation, which will lead to increased cooperation in maritime security, joint exercises, temporary deployments from each other’s naval facilities and mutual logistics support. Both Ministers looked forward to the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise next year," the ministers said in the joint statement.

Indian Minister for Defence Nirmala Sitharaman and Defence Minister of Singapore Dr Ng Eng Hen at Army Battle Honours Mess, New Delhi on 29 November 2017.
Indian Minister for Defence Nirmala Sitharaman and Defence Minister of Singapore Dr Ng Eng Hen at Army Battle Honours Mess, New Delhi on November 29, 2017. Photo courtesy: Ministry of Defence

The sec0nd Defence Ministers’ Dialogue between India and Singapore was hosted in Delhi today. It was inaugurated after both countries signed the revised Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in 2015 to further strengthen the longstanding defence relationship between the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Indian Armed Forces.

Dr Ng expressed his appreciation for India’s continued support for the SAF’s training in India, covered by the Air Force and Army Bilateral Agreements. Both Ministers welcomed the renewal of the Air Force Bilateral Agreement on the sidelines of the 11th Singapore-India Defence Policy Dialogue in January this year, and looked forward to the successful renewal of the Army Bilateral Agreement next year.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba exchanging the signed documents of bilateral agreement with the Naval Chief of Singapore Rear Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, in the presence of Indian Minister for Defence, Nirmala Sitharaman, and the Defence Minister of Singapore, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, in New Delhi on November 29, 2017. The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa is also seen. (Photo courtsey: Press Information Bureau)
The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba (right) exchanging the signed documents of bilateral agreement with the Naval Chief of Singapore Rear Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, in the presence of Indian Minister for Defence, Nirmala Sitharaman, and the Defence Minister of Singapore, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, in New Delhi on November 29, 2017. The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa is also seen. Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau

On regional security, both Ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining maritime freedom of navigation and trade consistent with international law. India plays a vital role in the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus. Both Ministers also discussed Singapore’s proposal to expand the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea to all ADMM-Plus countries as well as to establish guidelines for air encounters between military aircraft, in order to reduce the risk of miscalculations.

Appreciating India’s leading role in the Indian Ocean Region, Dr Ng agreed to India’s proposal for continuous and institutionalised naval engagements in their shared maritime space, including establishing maritime exercises with like-minded regional/ ASEAN partners. Both ministers emphasised the importance of international cooperation in tackling transnational security threats, and in particular measures to collectively tackle the threat of terrorism.

The Defence Minister of Singapore, Dr. Ng Eng Hen inspecting the Tri-Services Guard of Honour, in New Delhi on November 28, 2017. (Photo courtsey: Press Information Bureau)
The Defence Minister of Singapore, Dr. Ng Eng Hen inspecting the Tri-Services Guard of Honour, in New Delhi on November 28, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau)

Both Ministers also commended the progress made since the India-Singapore Defence Technology Steering Committee was set up in October 2006 to launch joint research projects. Dr Ng expressed his appreciation for India’s offer of its test ranges and infrastructure to Singapore for the conduct of testing and evaluation for R&D projects. Singapore and India have also made progress in defence industry cooperation, with the signing of the terms of reference for the Defence Industry Working Group (DIWG) in August this year. Both Ministers agreed that this would facilitate greater collaboration in aerospace, electronics and other areas of mutual interest between the defence industries of both countries.

Dr Ng expressed his appreciation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s acceptance as keynote speaker for the 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue to articulate India’s vision for a stable Indo-Pacific region.

 

Author
Pradeep Rana
Pradeep Rana – Senior Correspondent

Pradeep Rana has worked as a journalist with news ​agencies UNI and PTI, newspapers Indian Express and The Times Of India, and television channel NHK as South Asia Correspondent. He has also worked as Media Analyst at US Embassy, and edited several magazines and a medical handbook.

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