India, Singapore Sign Pact on Joint Air Exercises and Training

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New Delhi, Oct 9 (UNI) India and Singapore today agreed on a long-term arrangement for conducting joint training and exercises between their respective Air Forces thus giving a fresh impetus to the burgeoning defence relations between the two countries.

The agreement in this regard was signed by Indian Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and Singapore's Permanent Secretary of Defence Chiang Chie Foo as the two-day Fourth India-Singapore Defence Policy Dialogue began here.

On the opening day of the dialogue, both sides gave an update on bilateral defence relations and expressed the need to further intensify cooperation. The various sub-groups reported progress made in respective fields including research&development.

The regional security aspects, both from the Indian as well as the Singaporean perspectives, were also discussed.

The two countries are poised to ink a unique five-year defence cooperation pact to allow the city-state's Armed Forces to exercise regularly on Indian territory and airspace.

The comprehensive agreement in this regard, along with a detailed logistical pact, is likely to be signed when Singaporean Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean comes visiting next week. Permanent Secretary Chiang Chie Foo -- who arrived here yesterday -- leaves for home tomorrow.

The Singapore Defence delegations were scheduled to hold discussions with Defence Minister AK Antony, Navy Chief -- and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee -- Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, among others.

During the talks, the two sides were expected to discuss regional security, including expanding cooperation in the maritime security arena.

The fillip in defence cooperation with Singapore ties in with India's 'Look East' policy and the strategy to build stronger military linkages in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China.

Under the bilateral agreement, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security, Singapore will now keep some of its military equipment in India on a permanent basis.

The City-state simply does not have the space for its Armed Forces to engage in large-scale exercises. Though its Armed Forces have been coming here for exercises under a 2003 defence cooperation pact, this will be the first time such a detailed long-term agreement will be initialled.

Singapore has similar agreements for training facilities abroad with various countries like the United States, France, Australia, Thailand and Taiwan.

UNI

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