India and Singapore on Tuesday decided to strengthen cooperation in countering threats of rising terrorism with Prime Minister Narendra Modi terming cross-border terrorism and increasing radicalisation as “grave challenges” that endanger the very fabric of the two societies.
Modi, who held comprehensive talks with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on ways to enhance cooperation in key sectors including trade and investment, said defence and security cooperation is a key pillar of strategic partnership between India and Singapore.
Addressing a joint press meet, Lee condemned terrorism and offered condolences to the families of the soldiers who were killed in the Uri attack.
Asserting that “rising tide of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism, and the rise of radicalisation are grave challenges to our security”, Modi said, “they threaten the very fabric of our societies.
“It is my firm belief that those who believe in peace and humanity need to stand and act together against this menace. Today, we have agreed to enhance our cooperation to counter these threats, including in the domain of cyber security.”
He also noted that as two maritime nations, keeping the sea lanes of communication open and respect for international legal order of seas and oceans was a shared priority.
The two countries also inked three pacts including the one dealing with Intellectual Property rights to facilitate greater business to business exchanges and collaborations.
Describing trade and investment as bedrock of bilateral relationship, Modi said India has embarked on a path of strong economic growth and transformation and in this journey, it regards Singapore as a key partner.
Agreeing to expedite the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, the two leaders also welcomed the issuance of corporate Rupee bonds in Singapore which was a step forward in mobilising capital for India’s large infrastructure development needs.
“I have been informed that Singapore is leading the world in putting driverless cars on the road. But, I rest assured, we all rest assured, that one of India’s strongest well-wishers Prime Minister Lee is in the driving seat for Singapore and for our bilateral relationship. Excellency Lee, you are a friend of India,” Modi said.
Lee said they also discussed furthering Singapore and India’s strong economic ties, for instance, by setting up a Finance Dialogue between the finance ministries of both the countries.
On the Singapore side, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will be appointed for the task and India will appoint Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to find “win-win outcomes” for both countries, Lee added.
Noting that Singapore’s National Anthem was “Majulah Singapura”– “Onward, Singapore”, Modi said it is no surprise, therefore, that if there is one country that seems to act in the present, but is alive to the needs of the future, it is Singapore.
“Whether it is manufacturing, environment, innovation, technology, or delivery of public services, Singapore does today what the rest of the world would do tomorrow,” he added.
Prime Minister Modi said that last year the bilateral ties were upgraded to the level of a Strategic Partnership with “renewed spirit, new energy” with an aim to deliver benefits to people of the two countries and to “combine the strengths of Singapore with the scale of India and dynamism of Singapore with vibrancy of our states”.
On his part Lee said, “Singapore remains a firm believer in India and we will continue to contribute, where we can, to India’s remarkable development story.”
The two leaders also undertook a detailed review of the shape and substance of strategic partnership.
Referring to the inking of two MoUs, Modi said under it a skill development centre for the North-Eastern states in Guwahati will be set up.
He also welcomed the inauguration of the Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training in Udaipur, in cooperation with Rajasthan government.
Rajasthan is also partnering with Singapore in the fields of urban development and waste management, Modi said while noting that Singapore was already a partner in developing Amaravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh.
Prime Minister Modi also recalled his first visit to Singapore as prime minister on the solemn occasion to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, a guiding light not just for Singapore, but for the whole of Asia.
This year, India was saddened by the demise of another great son of Singapore, former President S R Nathan, he said while describing him as a close friend of India who was conferred with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.