A day after attending the India-Asean summit and the East Asia Summit in furtherance on India's Look East policy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday credited Singapore for leading to the strategic shift in the nation's foreign and economic policies.
Speaking at a lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday afternoon, Dr Singh said, "It was the opening of our relations with Singapore which led to a strategic shift in India's foreign and economic policies that has today evolved into our Look East policy."
Singh, who arrived in Singapore late on Saturday night after a hectic two days spent in Bali, during which he held bilateral meetings with the United States President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, apart from a pull-aside with Australian Prime Minister Julian Gillard, on Sunday morning drove down the state guest house Asthana for a banquet held in his honour by Lee.
Singapore, which is India's partner in Asean, signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with India. "It was during your visit to India in 2005 that we signed the agreement which has led to a qualitative upgradation of our trade and investment relations with Singapore," Singh told Lee in his speech.
He also told his Singaporean counterpart that when he visits India next year, it will give Lee an opportunity to see for himself the developments that have taken place in India, "and the manner in which Singapore has contributed to India's progress."
Assuring that Lee that his government places the highest priority on relations with Singapore, Dr Singh said, "Ours is a partnership that stands on the foundation of shared values of pluralism, secularism and democracy, and convergence of our perspectives on regional and international issues."
Welcoming greater investment and technology flows from Singapore, Dr Singh said, "Our relations also encompass political, security and defence cooperation and we value our engagement with Singapore in these areas."
"Today 11 Indian cities are directly connected by air to Singapore, Dr Singh said in acknowledgement of the fact that the largest number of flights from India to any one single destination is to Singapore.
The year 2012, which will mark 20 years of full dialogue partnership between India and the Asean nations, Dr Singh said, "We look forward to working closely with Singapore to commemorate these 20 years, and to evolve an even more ambitious roadmap for the period ahead."
Dr Singh will emplane for India after unveiling the Nehru bust at the Asian Civilisations Museum in the evening, reaching New Delhi well in time for the winter session of Parliament beginning on Tuesday.