India, Singapore to Conduct Joint Army Exercise Later This Month

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New Delhi, Oct 10 (UNI) The Indian and Singapore Armies will hold joint artillery exercises at Deolali, near Nasik in Maharashtra, later this month, it was announced here today.

An official spokesperson said the Singapore Army will be represented at the forthcoming exercise by an over 100-member contingent. The announcement came at the end of the two-day Fourth India-Singapore Defence Policy Dialogue which began here yesterday.

Only yesterday, both India and Singapore had initialled an agreement envisaging a long-term arrangement for conducting joint training and exercises between their respective Air Forces lending a fresh impetus to the burgeoning defence relations between the two countries.

The Defence Policy Dialogue saw both sides giving updates 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.

The Singapore Defence delegation was 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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