Singapore. 03 June 2016. The Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is on a three-day visit to Singapore for his introductory visit and to attend the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue. He today met the Minister for Defence of Singapore Dr. Ng Eng Hen to co-chair the inaugural Singapore-India Defence Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD).
Both Ministers welcomed the growth in the defence relationship since the signing of the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in 2003 and the revised DCA in 2015. Defence cooperation had been identified as a key sector under the India-Singapore Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed during the visit of Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi to Singapore in November 2015.
The two Ministers noted that their bilateral defence cooperation has been longstanding. The two navies conducted the first Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) in 1994. SIMBEX has grown more ambitious over the years, incorporating the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Archer-class submarine and the Indian Navy’s Kamorta-class corvette and P-8I aircraft for the first time in May 2015.
The high degree of complexity of the bilateral exercises between all three Services of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Indian Armed Forces reflects the growing confidence as well as mutual respect for each other’s professional capabilities. Both Ministers committed to further enhancing the scale and scope of bilateral exercises.The two air forces have also conducted 11 bilateral exercises since 2004, while the two armies have conducted joint artillery and armour exercises since 2005.
Dr Ng thanked Parrikar for India’s strong support for the SAF’s training in India, covered under the ambit of bilateral agreements for Air Force and Army training. Both sides agreed to work toward the renewal of both agreements in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Both Ministers also commended the progress made in bilateral cooperation in defence R&D and technology. Under the India-Singapore Defence Technology Steering Committee, which was set up in October 2006, both sides have undertaken several joint research projects in a wide spectrum of mutually-beneficial areas, and are deepening cooperation in unmanned systems and soldier performance.
Singapore and India also convened the first meeting of their Defence Industry Working Group in May 2016. Both sides agreed to set up industry level working mechanisms to foster cooperation in aerospace, electronics and other areas of mutual interest. Both Ministers noted that new opportunities for industrial collaboration, including through Joint Ventures, have opened up due to India’s Make in India initiative.
Both Ministers reaffirmed India’s vital role in the security of the Asia-Pacific region, in particular through the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus platforms. Dr Ng thanked India for hosting the ADMM-Plus Humanitarian Mine Action and Peacekeeping Operations Exercise in March 2016, and for participating in the ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Exercise in May 2016 with one naval ship with embarked helicopter, Special Forces and infantry teams of over 200 personnel.
They also emphasised the importance of international cooperation in tackling transnational security threats. In particular, both Ministers strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms, and renewed their commitment to cooperate in counter-terrorism efforts.
The two Ministers also emphasised their shared commitment to maintaining freedom of navigation in international waters, the right of passage and overflight, unimpeded commerce and access to resources in accordance with recognised principles of international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The two sides agreed on the need to evolve protocols and norms of behaviour in the air and maritime domains aimed at building confidence, defusing tensions and reducing the risks of miscalculations.
Dr Ng also thanked Parrikar for India’s support for the Information Fusion Centre and the Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre.