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India, Singapore Agree to Enhance Naval Cooperation Near Strait of Malacca

© AP Photo / Rafiq MaqboolIndian navy ships
Indian navy ships - Sputnik International
The agreement indicates India’s consistent efforts in strengthening the capability of its navy in the eastern part of the Strait of Malacca that connects the South China Sea with the Indian Ocean, as 80 percent of China’s energy supply passes through this shipping route.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — In a major strategic development in the Indian Ocean region, India and Singapore have signed a major naval agreement which allows Indian warships to refuel and restock in Singapore. The agreement was signed during the second Defence Ministers' Dialogue concluded in New Delhi on Wednesday. This is India's first such logistics agreement with an East Asian country.

"Of particular significance during this meeting was the conclusion of the India-Singapore Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation, which will lead to increased cooperation in maritime security, joint exercises, temporary deployments from each other's naval facilities and mutual logistics support," the joint statement reads.

Indian Navy Shivalik-class stealth multi-role frigate INS Sahyadri (F49) (File) - Sputnik International
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Singapore will also hold live firing drill in the Andaman Sea which is just a few miles away from the Strait of Malacca. India has also offered its test ranges and infrastructure to Singapore for testing and evaluation of research and development projects. India has also allowed Singapore's military to train on its soil, which is critical for the city-state due to space constraints.

"I not only support but I would encourage the Indian Navy to visit Changi naval base more often," Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defense of the Republic of Singapore said at the joint press conference in New Delhi.

Both the countries have also ‘reaffirmed the importance of maintaining maritime freedom of navigation and trade consistent with international law.'

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However, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has denied any possibility of including Singapore in the proposed Quad of India, the US, Japan and Australia and has said that any engagement with Singapore would be via ASEAN only.

On Tuesday, Singapore's Defense Minister had also expressed his reservations against the Quad coalition. Dr. Hen said that polarizing defense and trade would not be helpful for the region.

"We are trying to craft a system under which we can ensure peace and progress for everyone, where small and large states have ways and means to resolve disputes through peaceful means," Ng had said.

READ MORE: India Holds Massive Military Exercise Near Chinese Trade Chokepoint

PLA Air Force Xian H-6 Bomber - Sputnik International
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The move to set up the quad coalition comes in the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. The US has been favoring a larger role for India in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region, but Singapore has argued that it is not useful to cast one bloc against another.

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