India, Singapore strengthen ties, sign 10 pacts

RSTV Bureau
PM-Modi-&-President-Tony-Tan-Keng-Yam-in-Singapore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the President of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam during a meeting in Singapore on Tuesday. Photo – PTI

India and Singapore have now elevated their ties to a ‘strategic partnership’ and signed 10 bilateral agreements after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng.

The ten pacts signed by the two sides also included a joint declaration on a new strategic partnership.

“India and Singapore elevate their bilateral relations to a strategic partnership to deepen and broaden engagement in existing areas of cooperation and catalyse new ones ranging from political, defence and security cooperation to economic, cultural and people-to-people contact. The strategic partnership is also a framework to contribute to greater regional stability and growth,” the joint declaration said.

About 14-15 key issues including skills development, urban development, tourism, civil aviation and financial services were discussed in the meetings, said Secretary (East) at the Ministry of External Affairs Anil Wadhwa.

“The talks covered a wide range of areas including defence and services, culture, economic cooperation and financial services. Singapore also returned a statue of Uma Parmeshwari, which belonged to India,” he added.

In the meetings, Singapore sought doubling of flights to India while Prime Minister Modi asked them to play a key role in upgrading railway stations in India.

An MoU was signed to enhance civil aviation between the two nations. The PM also announced that Singapore’s Changi Airport is in talks for participating in development of two airports in India.

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Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar exchanges the documents with the permanent secretary Ministry of Defence, Singapore, Chan Yeng Kit, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in Singapore on Tuesday. Photo – PTI

An enhanced defence cooperation, which provides for defence ministers’ dialogue, joint exercises between armed forces, cooperation between defence industries to identify areas of co-production and co-development, was agreed upon by the two nations.

An MoU was also signed to promote a closer cooperation and exchange of information pertaining to cyber security.

Other pacts include cooperation to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, capacity building, skill upgrading, knowledge development and urban planning and enhanced bilateral cooperation in maritime security.

Besides these, both sides inked an executive programme document on cooperation in the fields of arts, heritage, archives and library for 2015-18.

On Tuesday afternoon, PM Modi addressed investors in Singapore where he proposed divestment of Navratna PSUs and sought the Singaporean government’s help in building at least 20 smart cities.

“The disinvestment of Navratna PSUs also was discussed and Modi invited Singapore companies to take part in the disinvestment of these companies,” Wadhwa said.

India is looking at selling stakes in Public Sector Undertakings to raise around Rs 70,000 crore in the current fiscal. PSUs are classified into three categories – Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna – mainly based on financial criteria to give them greater operational autonomy.

(With inputs from PTI)