Indian terrain to host S’pore army drills

Agence France Presse

New Delhi, April 2:

Singapore will be able to use Indian territory to train its air force and army personnel, in the first such arrangement India has worked out with any country, a diplomatic official said today.

The plan was finalised when Defence Secretary Ajay Prasad met his Singapore counterpart, Peter Ho, in the city state last week, the official told AFP.

The move would signal growing closeness between the two countries and ease Singapore’s problem of having insufficient territorial area to carry out armed forces training.

“New Delhi was asked if Singapore could conduct their training exercises in India and the green signal was given,” another diplomatic official said. “The first exercises for Singapore’s air force will be in October.” The defence and foreign ministry spokesmen declined comment. India and Singapore have also agreed to conduct joint military exercises, one diplomatic official said.

Both officials said a fleet of five Singapore fighter aircraft could be allowed to train in Gwalior in central India where India and the US staged joint aerial combat exercises last month. Singapore’s army could also be allowed to train in Pokhran in the western desert state of Rajasthan where New Delhi detonated five nuclear devices in May 1998, the official said. Bilateral defence ties have grown steadily since the mid-1990s with regular exchanges of visits by ministers and high-level military officials. The two sides’ navies have since the mid-1990s been exchanging information on gun-running, piracy and narcotics trafficking.