India and Singapore on Wednesday signed an agreement on submarine rescue support and cooperation between the two navies during the 5th Defence Ministers dialogue held virtually between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Singapore counterpart Dr Ng Eng Hen.
According to an official statement, defence and security engagements between India and Singapore have broadened significantly in scale and scope across all three services of the Armed Forces as well as in the areas of defence technology and industry. Both countries have also found common ground on multilateral fora and engagements.
During their virtual interaction, both the ministers welcomed initiatives to expand bilateral defence cooperation including the implementing agreement on Humtarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) cooperation in August 2020 for the two Armed Forces to have closer operational collaboration in response to disasters and capacity-building activities of mutual interest, said an official statement.
During the dialogue, both ministers exchanged views on the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the defence and security engagements, including the best practices adopted by their Armed Forces. Rajnath Singh conveyed gratitude for the role of the Singapore Armed Forces, in supporting foreign workers, many of whom were Indian nationals, at the peak of the pandemic. Dr Ng also complimented India's successes in bringing down the overall numbers despite challenges of scale in terms of geography and population, the statement added.
Last year in the month of November, the navies of the two countries conducted the 27th edition of maritime bilateral exercise (SIMBEX) and participated in the second editions of maritime trilateral exercise SITMEX with Thailand's Navy.
"The Ministers were pleased that the Indian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy successfully conducted the 27th edition of Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) and also participated in the second edition of the Singapore India-Thailand Maritime Exercise (SITMEX), both held in November 2020. These exercises enhance interoperability amongst the navies and underscore the shared responsibility of the countries to work together to keep sea lines of communications open," the statement said.
Rajnath Singh reaffirmed ASEAN centrality in the regional security architecture and pledged India's support to all endeavours of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus.
According to an official statement, Dr Ng expressed support for India's upcoming co-chairmanship of the ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Group on HADR.
Both ministers were committed to further enhance bilateral defence ties between India and Singapore and supported multilateral initiatives to promote lasting peace and stability in the region, it said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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