Singapore Defence Minister arrives in India today, look to deepen security ties

Singapore's Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen arrives today in India to hold second Singapore-India Defence Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD) with his counterpart Indian Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman.

Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meeting with Singapore's Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen.
Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meeting with Singapore's Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen. Photos courtesy: MEA

Buoyed by the success of the inaugural DMD held in Singapore last year, the two sides will look to deepen their defence ties during Dr Ng's visit.

"Headed to India for the second Singapore-India Defence Ministers Dialogue in NewDelhi, and to visit the bilateral Airforce exercise at Kalaikunda Air Force Station, near Kolkata. Our defence ties are strong and this trip hopes to step up our bilateral cooperation even more," the minister wrote in a post on his Twitter account before his departure.

Dr Ng will land in Kolkata first and on November 28, he will visit the Republic of Singapore Air Force-Indian Air Force Joint Military Training at Kalaikunda Air Force Station in Kolkata.

He will also deliver a lecture on the topic ‘Defence Relations between Singapore and India in an Evolving Indo-Pacific Security Landscape’ at the Brookings Institution India Centre.

On November 29, Dr Ng will meet Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and co-chair the second India-Singapore Defence Ministers’ Dialogue. The Dialogue is a key initiative from the revised Defence Cooperation Agreement signed in November 2015.

Dr Ng is accompanied by Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong and other MINDEF-SAF officials.

Defence Ministers of India Nirmala Sitharaman (right) and Singapore Ng Eng Hen during their interaction.
Defence Ministers of India Nirmala Sitharaman (right) and Singapore Ng Eng Hen during their interaction.

Singapore and India enjoy regular defence interactions in multiple areas, including defence policy dialogues, high-level visits, military exchanges, training exercises and defence and technology cooperation.

Both countries recognise the centrality of ASEAN in the security architecture of the region and focus on maritime security, freedom of navigation and threat of terrorism.

Singapore is India’s 10th largest bilateral trade partner (2016-17) and the second largest among ASEAN countries with a share of 2.5 % and 2.6 % of overall trade of India and Singapore respectively. Singapore also has access to 18 additional Indian points open to ASEAN countries. Singapore Airlines holds a 49 % stake in Vistara, a JV with Tata Group.

A Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between India and Singapore was signed in October 2003, and the enhanced DCA signed in November 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to provide an overarching framework for bilateral defence cooperation. This includes conduct of policy dialogues, working group and staff talks, exercises, training activities, exhibitions and conferences.

Pursuant to the enhanced DCA, the inaugural Defence Minister Dialogue was held on 3 June 2016 when the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar visited Singapore for the 15th Shangri La Dialogue. Exchange of visits and exercises are regularly held between armed forces of two countries.

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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