By Press Information Bureau
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday welcomed Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong here. “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. We commend your commitment and contribution to strengthening our ties. It is indeed a great honour for me to welcome you here,” Modi said.
My first visit to Singapore as Prime Minister was on a solemn occasion, to pay our respects to Lee Kuan Yew, a guiding light not just for Singapore, but for the whole of Asia. This year, we were saddened by the demise of another great son of Singapore, former President S. R. Nathan. He was a close friend of India, and we had the honour to confer on him the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman. We will miss him.
Singapore’s National Anthem is “Majulah Singapura”– “Onward, Singapore” 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.
Less than twelve months ago, during my visit to Singapore, we had upgraded our bilateral relationship to the level of a Strategic Partnership with “Renewed Spirit, New Energy”. To deliver benefits to both our people, our partnership aims to combine the strengths of Singapore with the scale of India; and dynamism of Singapore with vibrancy of our States. During my visit last year we had drawn up a road map to realize our ambitious cooperative agenda.
Expeditious implementation of agreed decisions has also been an important element of our engagement. Today, Excellency Lee and I undertook a detailed review of the shape and substance of our strategic partnership. During my visit to Singapore, Prime Minister Lee had taken me on a visit to the Institute for Technical Education. Today, we have signed two MOUs focused on skill development: one, to set up a Skill Development Centre for our North Eastern States in Guwahati; and the other with the National Skill Development Council. I also welcome the inauguration of the Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training in Udaipur, in cooperation with the State Government of Rajasthan. Rajasthan is also partnering with Singapore in the fields of urban development and waste management. Singapore is already our partner in developing Amaravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh.
The trade and investment ties form the bedrock of our bilateral relationship. We enjoy a strong network of business to business partnerships. In this context, Prime Minister Lee and I have agreed to expedite the second review of our Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. The MOU on Intellectual Property, which has been signed today, will facilitate greater business to business exchanges and collaborations. Prime Minister Lee and I also welcome the issuance of corporate Rupee bonds in Singapore. It is a step forward in our efforts to mobilize capital for India’s large infrastructure development needs.
Our defence and security cooperation is a key pillar of our strategic partnership. As two maritime nations, keeping the sea lanes of communication open, and respect for international legal order of seas and oceans is a shared priority. Our cooperation in the framework of ASEAN, East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Framework is aimed at building an open and inclusive architecture for regional cooperation, in an atmosphere of trust and confidence. Rising tide of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism, and the rise of radicalization are grave challenges to our security. 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.
India has embarked on a path of strong economic growth and transformation. In this journey, we regard Singapore as a key partner. Recently, we benefitted from Deputy Prime Minister Shanmugaratnam’s ideas on transforming India. I also deeply value your personal friendship, and your leadership in taking our bilateral relationship forward. Once again, I extend to you and your delegation my warmest welcome. I am confident that your visit to India will be productive and successful, Modi added.