The Singapore Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen hosted Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to breakfast this morning, on the sidelines of the 11th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) and 4th ADMM-Plus today.
The Minister described the meeting as, " It was a meeting of minds and commitment to deepen bilateral defence ties." Singapore took over as the Chair of the 2008 ASEAN Defence Minister's Meeting Plus.
The meeting of ASEAN defence minister ahead of upcoming ASEAN Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is expected to set the stage for a more meaningful event that will be presided Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.
Dr Ng and Minister Sitharaman reaffirmed the strong and long-standing defence relationship and discussed ways to enhance bilateral defence cooperation under the revised Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) signed in November 2015.
The two sides also acknowledged the good progress made under the revised DCA, such as the convening of the first Defence Industry Working Group in May 2016 and the inaugural Singapore-India Defence Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD) held in June 2016. Both sides looked forward to Dr Ng’s upcoming visit to India in November 2017 for the 2nd DMD.
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.
In her address, Sitharaman spoke of the centrality of ASEAN in the security architecture of the region and focussed on maritime security, freedom of navigation and threat of terrorism.
Singapore is India’s 10th largest bilateral trade partner (2016-17) and the 2nd 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.
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 the 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.