Singapore Defence Minister Calls on Antony

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New Delhi, Oct 15 (UNI) India and Singapore today agreed to expand ongoing cooperation in defence, especially in the maritime security arena.

During talks -- when visiting Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean called on Defence Minister AK Antony here, the two sides discussed regional security and expressed the need to further intensify the burgeoning defence relations between them.

Only last week, the two countries had held their two-day Fourth India-Singapore Defence Policy Dialogue during which they initialled an agreement envisaging a long-term arrangement for conducting joint training and exercises between their respective Air Forces.

Earlier, last month, the Singapore Navy participated in the five-nation Malabar 2007 naval exercises hosted by India in the Bay of Bengal off the Andaman&Nicobar islands. The naval manoeuvers -- from September 4-9 -- also witnessed participation by the navies of the United States, Japan and Australia.

Later this month, a 100-plus contingent from the Singapore Army will be holding an artillery training exercise at Deolali, near Nasik in Maharashtra.

The recent 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 a proposed bilateral agreement, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security, Singapore will be allowed to 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, the proposed agreement will be the first such detailed long-term arrangement of its kind.

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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