Nov 22, 2012

Singapore - Singapore wants India to play larger role in broader ASEAN region

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NEW DELHI: Singapore would like to further cooperate with India in the field of defence, and would like to see the country play a larger role in the broader ASEAN region.

Those were the key messages that Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen expressed to his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony and other Indian officials.

Dr Ng is on a two-day introductory visit to the Indian capital.

His first port of call was the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, a New Delhi think-tank, where he addressed senior defence and foreign affairs officials and academics.

In his speech, Dr Ng said India had a historic connection with the ASEAN region and that it should play a leadership role in the Asia-Pacific.

"India already participates closely in the EAS, the ARF, the ADMM-Plus and the Shangri-La Dialogue. India's perspectives and leadership would add to the balance of interests in the region. India's greater engagement of Southeast Asia, through meaningful multilateral engagement and a strong web of bilateral relationships, would also serve India's strategic and economic interests in the future," he said.

Dr Ng was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Indian Defence Ministry, where he met his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony.

The two leaders spoke about increasing interaction between the Singapore and Indian armed forces.

Dr Ng also met India's President Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, and other officials including Rahul Gandhi, the General Secretary of India's ruling Congress Party.

Dr Ng said: "We're looking for concrete ways, deliverables, things that we can do. Minister Anthony expressed his desire to see our three services interact even more, and I fully concurred with him, and we'll go back and do some staff work in terms of how we can step that up."

The Singapore and Indian armed forces already conduct joint training exercises and interact through policy dialogues, high-level visits and professional exchanges.

The levels of cooperation between the militaries of the two nations, and those of India and other ASEAN countries, are set to improve further.

Dr Ng's visit to India highlights a desire to see greater Indian participation in fora like the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus and the Shangri-La Dialogue. It was also an opportunity to reaffirm the strong defence ties between the two nations.

- CNA/de

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