Deepening ties: Defence Ministers of India and Singapore Nirmala Sitharaman and Ng Eng Hen addressing the media in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday

Modalities being worked out, says Singapore Minister

VIZAG: Taking forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s keynote address at the 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue, wherein he had articulated India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region, we strongly support India’s deep engagement with the ASEAN member-States’ participation in patrols along the Straits of Malacca with Singapore, and look forward to the inaugural conduct of the trilateral maritime exercise with Thailand in the Andaman Sea, said Ng Eng Hen, Defence Minister of Republic of Singapore, here on Tuesday.

He was addressing a joint press conference with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the ENC headquarters, held as part of the ongoing 25th Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) and the third Defence Ministers’ dialogue between the two countries.

A trilateral exercise would bolster the presence of the three nations in the Malacca Straits, and efforts were on to design the exercise modalities, he said.

Ms. Sitharaman said the bilateral agreement for the conduct of the joint Army training and exercises in India had been renewed and the framework was being worked out to allow the Singapore Army to use the firing ranges in India to test their special weapons.

Both the Ministers agreed on the importance of sea lines communication and maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight, consistent with the international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Ministers also agreed on the importance of international cooperation in tackling transnational security threats and, in particular, measures to collectively tackle the threat of terrorism.

Intelligence Sharing

Referring to a question on sharing of intelligence and information, Dr. Ng said both the countries had come to an understanding to share intelligence and information, particularly in the areas of maritime security and counter terrorism, and expand collaboration on submarine safety and rescue. “We will also step up sharing of information regarding weather forecast and search-and-rescue operation during adverse weather conditions,” he said.

They also agreed for renewed cooperation in defence technology collaboration under the auspices of the India-Singapore Defence Technology Steering Committee and the India-Singapore Defence Industry Working Group.