P. S. Suryanarayana
Rao Inderjit Singh holds talks with Singapore Defence Minister
A "plus" over the existing bilateral accord``City-State can help develop our facilities"
SINGAPORE: India and Singapore "are working on a long-term defence cooperation agreement quite expeditiously now."
Indicating this, Minister of State for Defence Production, Rao Inderjit Singh, has said here that the proposed memorandum of understanding would entail a "plus" over the existing bilateral accord in this domain.
Mr. Singh, who called on Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean, said that during the weekend they discussed this issue. An aspect of the new initiative was the possibility of "a little more presence of Singapore armed forces" in India for exercises and training. In a reciprocal gesture for such a greater access to India, Singapore could consider "investing" on upkeep of the facilities now being used by its armed forces.
Noting that Singapore was not on India's radar as a source of high-end know-how for defence production, Mr. Singh said the City-State could, under the proposed accord, "help develop our facilities" for exercises and training. New Delhi was now "getting nothing in return" except "a good hand-shake," for allowing Singapore access to the Indian military facilities, he said.
India's High Commissioner to Singapore, S. Jaishankar, and the Defence Advisor in the Indian Embassy here, G. Ashok Kumar, participated in Mr. Singh's meeting with Mr. Teo. Mr. Singh, who was here to seek Singapore's support for the Indian bid to host the 2014 Asian Games, later left for Myanmar on a similar mission.
On India's defence ties with Myanmar, Mr. Singh drew attention to the ongoing anti-terror cooperation along their border. Myanmar was now responding to the Indian requests for such cooperation by either acting "unilaterally" or allowing New Delhi the right of "hot pursuit" to nab the terror-suspects.
On India's role in maintaining security along the Straits of Malacca, Mr. Singh said: "Whatever help is required of us [by the littoral states of Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia], we are ready to give - whether it is in terms of sharing of costs [as suggested by Malaysian Foreign Minister] or in terms of patrolling [the waterway] physically."