Revised defence pact 'further strengthens S'pore-India ties'

Both nations to hold regular dialogues, spur industry cooperation as part of deal: Mindef

Joint military training and exercises, defence technology cooperation and other professional exchanges between India and Singapore already signify the long-standing defence ties between the two Republics.

Taking this relationship a "few notches up" is the revised defence cooperation agreement that was concluded yesterday.

Both countries will hold regular defence ministers' dialogues and encourage cooperation between defence industries, as part of the revised agreement, said Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) in a statement.

India is among the world's largest importers of arms, accounting for 15 per cent of the global arms imports from 2010 to last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Although the joint development of weapons systems and arms sales depend on many factors in principle, there are many possibilities of collaboration with defence industries on this front, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said during a doorstop at the Istana. "And that is why it was part of the agreement," he said.

"Specifically, it also calls for a closer collaboration in maritime security which, in addition to an agreement to exchange of information on white shipping (civilian ships) between the two navies, puts the two countries on a better footing, and takes it a few notches up from the previous agreement," said Dr Ng.

"It signals that India and Singapore are closer defence partners."

The revised defence agreement signed by Dr Ng and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar was symbolically exchanged yesterday by Singapore Permanent Secretary for Defence Chan Yeng Kit and Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in the presence of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Indian counterpart, Mr Narendra Modi.

Both countries have also agreed to continue to conduct and enhance bilateral training and exercises between the two armed forces, and explore further cooperation in areas of common interest, such as defence technology and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Earlier this year, an international liaison officer was accredited by India to the regional disaster centre at Changi, said the Mindef press statement.

Defence ties between Singapore and India have deepened since the defence cooperation agreement was signed in 2003, followed by the air force and army bilateral agreements in 2007 and 2008. During Mr Lee's visit to India in 2012, both governments also renewed an agreement to allow the Republic of Singapore Air Force to continue joint military training at Kalaikunda Air Force Station for five more years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Revised defence pact 'further strengthens S'pore-India ties''. Print Edition | Subscribe