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India and Singapore sign defence cooperation pactnews
10 October 2007
India and Singapore are to sign a unique five-year defence cooperation pact that will allow the city-state''s small but high-tech armed forces to conduct military exercises in India. The agreement and a detailed logistical pact are to be signed when Singapore defence minister Teo Chee Hean visits India from 14 to 18 October.

Teo''s visit has been preceded by permanent secretary (defence) Chiang Chie Foo''s visit from 8 to 10 October. The Singapore delegations will meet defence minister A K Antony, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and defence secretary Vijay Singh, among others. The two sides will discuss regional security and cooperation in maritime security.

Defence cooperation with Singapore is part of India''s ''Look East'' policy, and its strategy to build stronger military linkages in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China. Singapore is fast emerging as the hub for India''s economic, political and security ties with East Asia. The bilateral agreement has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh. It allows Singapore to keep some of its military equipment in India on a permanent basis.

Singapore does not have the space for its armed forces to engage in large-scale exercises. The country''s armed forces have been holding exercises in India under a 2003 defence cooperation pact. Land-starved Singapore also has similar agreements with the US, France, Australia, Thailand and Taiwan.

The defence ties help India in more ways than one. IAF pilots were desperate to size up F-16 fighter jets ever since Pakistan acquired them from US in the mid-1980s. They finally got the opportunity in October 2004, when the Singapore Air Force came visiting with its F-16s, which were pitted against Indian Su-30MKIs, MiG-29s and Mirage-2000s at the Sindex-Ankush exercise at Gwalior.

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India and Singapore sign defence cooperation pact