SINGAPORE: Singapore and India will step up cooperation in maritime security, Singapore's Ministry for Defence (MINDEF) said in a press release on Wednesday (Nov 29).
The two countries' defence ministers reaffirmed the "strong and long-standing defence relationship" between the two countries during the second India-Singapore Defence Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD).
Singapore's Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen and India's Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman discussed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation and talked about strategic regional security and defence issues. They also welcomed India's proposal of "institutionalising engagements", including maritime exercises, with Southeast Asian countries.
The two countries witnessed the exchange of the inaugural Navy Bilateral Agreement between both countries' chiefs of navy, in which both sides agreed to increase cooperation in maritime security, increase visits to each other’s ports and facilitate mutual logistics support.
The latest pact - together with other army and air force bilateral agreements - is "testament to the breadth and depth" of ties between the Singapore Armed Forces and Indian Armed Forces, said MINDEF.
The joint statement also acknowledged the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation in international waters and the "free flow of maritime trade and access to the global commons in a manner consistent with international law", said MINDEF.
Speaking to the media after the DMD, Dr Ng said the dialogue had seen “the meeting of minds and shared perspectives from both Singapore and India with regard to our defence relations".
"We also discussed at length our desire to step up cooperation in the maritime domain," he said.
"I was very thankful that we concluded the bilateral navy agreement which will facilitate these measures, as well as agreed to look into, not only renewing the agreements between our armies and our air forces, but to step up the level of engagements.”
In a joint statement, both defence ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to step up cooperation in areas like counter-terrorism.