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Rajnath Singh meets Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister, discusses defence cooperation

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pays homage at the marker of Mahatma Gandhi, in Singapore, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. A PTI Photo

SINGAPORE (PTI): Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday held talks with Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Heng Swee Keat with a focus on ramping up bilateral defence and security cooperation.

Singh arrived here last night on a two-day visit.

The defence minister expressed satisfaction over increasing engagement of the armed forces of India and Singapore, officials said, adding both leaders agreed to take the bilateral defence cooperation to greater heights.

In the meeting, Singh also referred to India's stand on the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region.

He said India is for an open, inclusive and stable Indo-Pacific, connected through secure sea routes, integrated by trade and anchored by the unity and centrality of ASEAN nations.

Singh reiterated India's stand that the implementation of international laws and norms, freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce as well as peaceful settlement of disputes is the only way to ensure a rules-based order in the Indo-pacific region.

There has been concern over China's aggressive military posturing in the Indo-Pacific region.

Singh also communicated to the Singaporean leader about India's decision to not join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Earlier, Singh visited the Sembawang Air Base and took a familiarisation air sortie in Super Puma Helicopter of the Republic of Singapore Air Force. He also visited Singapore naval ship RSS Stalwart.

He paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his Marker in Singapore. He also paid tributes Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Indian National Army (INA) martyrs at their memorial.

At the wreath laying ceremony at the INA marker, Singh was joined by 20 National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets who are here on Youth Exchange Programme.

Singh interacted with the cadets as well as with Ishwar Lal Singh, an INA veteran who served under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose.

"Delighted to meet Major Ishwar Lal during the wreath laying ceremony at INA marker in Singapore. Major Lal had served the Indian National Army under the leadership of Netaji Subhash Chandra. He is an embodiment of courage and bravery. I salute his service to INA & the nation," Singh tweeted.

He will attend the 4th India-Singapore Defence Ministers' Dialogue on Wednesday.

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