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Singapore offers India logistical base

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Singapore counterpart Ng Eng Hen in New Delhi

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Singapore counterpart Ng Eng Hen in New Delhi  

India and Singapore on Wednesday agreed on greater cooperation and activity in the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea even as the two countries concluded a wide ranging naval agreement for maritime cooperation including logistical support.

“We all recognise that the Strait of Malacca and Indian Ocean are key sea lanes of communication ... I think I speak on behalf of both countries, we want to see more participation and activity in both the Strait of Malacca and Andaman sea,” Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said at the joint press conference along with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman after the second Defence Ministerial dialogue.

The two countries concluded a bilateral agreement for naval cooperation, which includes maritime security, joint exercises and temporary deployments from the naval facilities of each other and mutual logistical support.

“I not only support but I would also encourage the Indian Navy to visit the Changi naval base more often. The bilateral naval agreement has provision for mutual logistical support,” Dr. Ng said.

Early this year, the Indian Navy permanently deployed a frontline warship at the mouth of the strait to keep an eye on the increasing Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean as part of its mission-based deployment.

The agreement would give the Navy the ability for extended deployments in the region.

Dr. Ng said it made sense for countries to cooperate not only to establish maritime security but also to maintain freedom of navigation because “we know it is a lifeline for economies”.

“We will conduct exercises and patrols in your waters as you do in ours. We try to economise and support each other,” he said.

Key choke point

The comments assume significance as the strait is considered a critical choke point for global commerce and is seen by China as a vulnerability for its energy security. The development is likely to be followed closely by Beijing.

Ms. Sitharaman said Singapore had accepted India’s proposal to institutionalise naval engagements in the shared maritime space, including setting up maritime exercises with like-minded countries and other ASEAN partners.

The two countries also agreed to explore joints projects in research and development.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 9:41:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/singapore-offers-india-logistical-base/article21135091.ece

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