New Delhi: India and Singapore Wednesday signed three key agreements including one on continuing the military training that Indian armed forces extend to their Singaporean counterparts.
The agreements were signed to coincide with the state visit of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to India at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and after the two leaders met for formal talks.
One agreement was signed by Indian Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and Singapore’s Permanent Secretary for Defence Chiang Chie Foo.
India is already training the Singaporean air force personnel at the Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal where the city state has permanently placed its air assets for training purposes.
“Prime Minister Lee and I have decided to step up bilateral cooperation and exchanges in the fields of defence and security. To this end, we have just signed a memorandum of understanding to renew the bilateral arrangement between our air forces on joint training and exercises,” Manmohan Singh said in a statement to the media.
On the occasion, the two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indian labour and employment ministry and Singapore’s education ministry concerning cooperation in the field of vocational education and skills development.
The MoU was signed by Indian Labour Minister Malikarjun Kharge and Singapore Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Another MoU signed was between the Delhi government’s training and technical education department and Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education on cooperation in the field of vocational education and skills development.
The memorandum was signed by Delhi Chief Secretary Praveen Kumar Tripathi and the Singapore institution’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Development) Benjamin Tan.
The agreement will facilitate the setting up of a greenfield world class centre in Delhi to provide state-of-the-art facility for skills development.
Describing Lee’s visit to India as “a milestone” in the bilateral relations, Singh said India will host the India-ASEAN commemorative summit later this year to mark two decades of the relations and expressed delight over Lee agreeing to visit India on that occasion.
India and Singapore had signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, which was the first agreement of its kind that India had signed with any other country, in 2005 during Lee’s visit then.
“Singapore is a close friend and valued regional partner for India. Our relations are broad-based and multi-faceted. They are underpinned by a confluence of interests spanning political, economic, cultural, defence and security issues,” Singh said, describing his discussion with Lee as “very fruitful”.
Singapore, being India’s foremost trading partner in ASEAN, is also a major source of FDI inflows into India.
“I welcomed additional Singapore investment into India, particularly in the infrastructure sector, where Singapore has great expertise.
“We agreed to expedite the conclusion of the ongoing second Review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement that would further facilitate trade in goods, services and investment,” Singh added.