Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen met Indian Minister for Defence Nirmala Sitharaman for the second India-Singapore Defence Ministers' Dialogue (DMD) today.
During the DMD, both Ministers reaffirmed the strong and long-standing defence relationship, and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation. Dr Ng and Ms Sitharaman also exchanged views on strategic regional security and defence matters, and welcomed India's proposal of institutionalising engagements, including maritime exercises, with Southeast Asian countries. They acknowledged the good progress made following the signing of the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in November 2015, such as the convening of the first Defence Industry Working Group in May 2016, and the inaugural Singapore-India DMD in June 2016.
Following the DMD, Dr Ng and Ms Sitharaman witnessed the exchange of the inaugural Navy Bilateral Agreement between both Chiefs of Navy, in which both sides agree to increase cooperation in maritime security, increase visits to each other's ports, and facilitate mutual logistics support. The Navy Bilateral Agreement was signed by Singapore's Permanent Secretary of Defence Mr Chan Yeng Kit and India's Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra. The conclusion of the Navy Bilateral Agreement, together with the existing Army and Air Force Bilateral Agreements, is testament to the breadth and depth of military-to-military ties between the Singapore Armed Forces and the Indian Armed Forces.
The Joint Statement released by Dr Ng and Ms Sitharaman after the DMD reaffirmed both countries' commitment to step up practical cooperation to address common security concerns, such as in the areas of counter-terrorism and maritime security. Both sides recognised India's vital role in regional security, in particular India's participation and support for the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus, and welcomed further cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally. The Joint Statement also acknowledged the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation in international waters, and the free flow of maritime trade and access to the global commons in a manner consistent with international law.
Speaking to the media after the DMD, Dr Ng emphasised the long history of defence cooperation between India and Singapore. He said, "What has marked this successful Defence Minister's Dialogue is the meeting of minds and shared perspectives from both Singapore and India with regard to our defence relations...We also discussed at length our desire to step up cooperation in the maritime domain...I was very thankful that we concluded the bilateral Navy agreement which will facilitate these measures, as well as agreed to look into, not only renewing the agreements between our Armies and our Air Forces, but to step up the level of engagements. "
Singapore and India enjoy regular defence interactions in multiple areas, including defence policy dialogues, high-level visits, military exchanges and defence and technology cooperation.
As part of his programme, Dr Ng will be hosted to dinner by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar later today.