Modi ends 3-nation tour aimed at countering China’s growing influence.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday conclude his three-nation visit in Southeast Asia by inking a pact with Singapore for logistic support for Indian naval ships and submarines.
At the culmination of his visit to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, aimed at attaining a strategic foothold in the region marked by increased Chinese economic and military assertiveness, Mr Modi tweeted, “India and Singapore are cooperating not only on land but also in the seas! At the Changi Naval Base I got an opportunity to witness the deep-rooted naval cooperation between our two nations.”
Before his return to India on Saturday, Mr Modi met officers and sailors of the Indian Navy and Royal Singapore Navy.
During his three-day visit to Singapore, Mr Modi held wide-ranging talks with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong and delivered a keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue — Asia’s premier defence and strategic affairs conference.
Mr Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to address the Shangri-La Dialogue, had said, in his keynote address at the dialogue on Friday, said that an “Asia of rivalry” will hold the region back while an Asia of cooperation will shape the current century. On Saturday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the Prime Minister’s visit added momentum to India’s “Act East Policy”.
“After a significant and successful three-nation visit to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, PM @narendramodi emplanes for India,” Mr Kumar tweeted.
India has extremely close defence ties with Vietnam but has put forth a determined effort to strengthen strategic ties with other Asean nations.
In a major defence initiative, India had on Friday inked an implementation pact with Singapore between the two navies for “coordination, logistics and services support” for naval ships, submarines and naval aircraft.
Earlier this week, Mr Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo had held talks in Jakarta and had confirmed the setting up of “a joint task force to undertake projects for port related infrastructure in and around Sabang” (a strategically-located Indonesian island at the northern tip of Sumatra near the Malacca Straits to which New Delhi will now gain access).
India is also only the second country after China with which Indonesia has established a comprehensive strategic partnership. The partnership was announced during the PM’s visit in Jakarta. It was also decided to boost connectivity between Sabang island and India’s Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar islands which are a few hundred nautical miles apart.
While the development of the strategically-located port is expected to benefit India economically, there has been no official word on whether this could translate in the future to Indian military access to the port. Crucial global shipping lines pass through the Malacca Straits.