India, Singapore agree to deepen economic, defence ties; ink 8 pacts

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Jun 2018 10:12:33


SINGAPORE,

(PTI)

INDIA and Singapore on Friday agreed to deepen their economic and defence ties as they signed eight agreements including one on logistics cooperation between their navies after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. The two leaders also exchanged views on the regional and global challenges and reiterated their principled position on maritime security and expressed commitment to ‘Rules Based’ Order.

“India-Singapore relations fulfill the criterion of strategic partnership in the true sense. There is no uneasiness in our relationships, rather it has only warmth, harmony and faith,” Modi said in a joint press statement after the meeting. The two countries signed implementation agreement between their navies concerning mutual coordination, logistics and services support for naval ships’, submarines and naval aircraft (including ship borne aviation assets) visits.

“Both Prime Ministers welcomed the exchange of the Implementing Arrangement between the Navies of both countries Concerning Mutual Coordination, Logistics and Services Support, and called for the early renewal of the Army Bilateral Agreement,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting. Appreciating India’s leadin role in the Indian Ocean region, both sides agreed to New Delhi’s proposal for continuous and institutionalised naval engagements in their shared maritime space including establishing maritime exercises with like-minded regional / ASEAN partners, it added.

“We welcome the continuous increase in these relations.I congratulate the navies of India and Singapore on 25th anniversary of SIMBEX. Soon we will start the tripartite naval exercises too,” Modi said. The two leaders reviewed progress in the bilateral relations and discussed the roadmap for the future. “We have been able to conclude successfully the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) but we agreed this is not just our target and goal but this only means to an end,” he said. “Our officials will soon begin discussions on upgrading and reforming this agreement.”

Since CECA was signed in 2004, India-Singapore bilateral trade more than doubled from SGD12 billion (USD 8.97 billions) to SGD 25 billion (USD 18.69 billion). Singapore was the second largest investor in India in FY-2016.“Combating cyber security, extremism and terrorism will be an important area of our cooperation in the coming days. We consider them to be among the biggest threats to our countries,” Modi said. Modi and Lee also exchanged views on the regional and global challenges and reiterated their principled position on maritime security and expressed commitment to ‘Rules Based’ Order. The two leaders also agreed on the need to maintain an open, stable and fair international trade regime.

“We both have reaffirmed our views on maritime security and have shown our commitment to a ‘Rules Based’ order...We also agreed for a peaceful, open, and friendly maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific region,” Modi said. Both sides reiterated their desire and determination to work together to maintain peace, stability, growth and prosperity in the region and beyond. They also reiterated their support for security, safety and freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with international law, the joint statement said.

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its manmade islands in the past few years, which it says it has the right to defend. China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. In the East China Sea, Beijing has territorial disputes with Japan.

Modi and Lee “called on all parties to resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of actions that could escalate tensions in the region,” the joint statement said.The two leaders recognised that terrorism continues to remain the single most significant threat to peace and stability and reiterated their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.Modi welcomed the progress towards realisation of the ASEAN Community and expressed full support for ASEAN’s unity, centrality and leadership in the evolving regional architecture.

On his part, Lee said India and Singapore are collaborating on technology, smart cities and skills development, both at the national and the State-level. Lee said India is a significant market for Singapore FinTech companies, while Singapore - as a global FinTech Hub - can be a gateway for India to enter the South-East Asian market. The two countries have agreed to establish a Joint Working Group on FinTech to support this new effort, he added. He said Singapore, as the current ASEAN chair, will work with India to continue strengthening the regional architecture, and in particular to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Lee reaffirmed Singapore’s continuing support for India as a permanent member in a reformed United Nations Security Council. Modi, who arrived here yesterday on the last leg of his three-nation visit, earlier made a courtesy call on President Halimah Yacob after a welcome ceremony at the Istana where he was given a guard of honour.