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Modi unveils Gandhi's plaque, meets Mattis in Singapore

By Gurdip Singh
June 02, 2018 10:17 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in Singapore, days after the Pentagon renamed its Pacific Command as Indo-Pacific Command in a largely symbolic move to signal India's importance to the US military.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former PM of Singapore ESM Goh Chok Tong unveil a Plaque marking the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhis Ashes at Clifford Pier in Singapore. Photograph: Courtesy @MEAINdia/Twitter

Modi, who is in Singapore on the last leg of his three-nation tour, held a closed-door meeting with Mattis during which both sides discussed all security related issues of mutual and global interests, sources said.


The meeting was held on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue which was addressed by the prime minister on Friday night.

The PM also unveiled a plaque to pay tribute at the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes at Clifford Pier in Singapore, jointly with Singapore's former premier Goh Chok Tong, on Saturday morning.

Modi unveiled the plaque on the seafront where some of the Mahatma's ashes were immersed in 1948.

'Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and I unveiled a plaque marking the site where Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were immersed at the Clifford Pier in Singapore,' Modi tweeted.

'Bapu's message reverberates globally. His thoughts and ideals motivate us to work for the greater good of humanity,' he said in a tweet.

IMAGE: Modi visits National Orchid Garden in Singapore. An orchid was named Dendrobrium Narendra Modi to commemorate his visit. Photograph: Courtesy @MEAINdia/Twitter

A beautiful rendition of 'Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye', a favourite bhajan of Mahatma Gandhi, was sung on the occasion.

After Gandhi's death in 1948, his ashes were sent to various parts of India and the world, including Singapore, for immersion.

Earlier, Modi met Goh, a veteran leader and an advocate of deeper India-Singapore engagement.

'Had a productive meeting with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong,' Modi tweeted after meeting Goh.


The meeting between the Modi and Mattis assumes significance as in his Shangri-La address, the latter stressed upon both countries working together and with other nations for ensuring peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

"It is only appropriate that waterways remain open for all nations," Mattis said.

The meeting comes days after the US renamed its oldest and largest military command -- the Pacific Command -- to Indo-Pacific Command, amid heightened tensions with China over the militarisation of the South China Sea.

IMAGE: Modi meets US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in Singapore. Photograph: ANI

The US move came in the wake of a series of measures by China that have raised tensions in the South China Sea.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the area. The US also rejects China's claims of ownership of the area.

The Pentagon's move is also reflective of the growing importance of India in US strategic thinking.

India was granted the 'Major Defence Partner' status by the previous Barack Obama Administration, providing for transfer of technology and deeper cooperation in the defence sector.

In 2016, India and the US had signed a crucial logistics defence pact enabling their militaries to use each other's assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, making joint operations more efficient.

Soon after coming to power, the Trump administration had renamed Asia Pacific as Indo-Pacific and identified India as one bookend of the region. 

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