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.
"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.'
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.