President Tony Tan's India visit to forge stronger ties

President Tony Tan's India visit to forge stronger ties
President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a meeting at Hyderabad House, where the two leaders reaffirmed the warm and longstanding relations between Singapore and India.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam had a fruitful four-day visit to India. Dr Tan, accompanied by his wife Mary, arrived in Delhi on Feb 8 at the invitation of India's president Pranab Mukherjee.

The visit to India is also part of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Dr Tan met India's prime minister Narendra Modi and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj during which they held wide-ranging discussions on boosting bilateral ties and strengthening cooperation on regional and international issues to raise the partnership to a higher level.

The talks covered new focus areas which are part of India's development process. These include the Smart Cities and urban rejuvenation initiatives, promoting skill development, measures to speed up connectivity and coastal and port development, strengthening linkage with north-east India, projects to scale up investments in the new development initiatives launched in India and enhancing exchanges with India, according to an Indian government statement.

Both sides agreed on the sharing of experiences in science and technology, space and other areas to enhance productivity and efficiency as well as broadening cooperation in fighting terrorism.

At a state banquet organised in his honour by the Indian president, Dr Tan said Singapore-India relations will be elevated to a strategic partnership this year.

"Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be signing this milestone agreement later this year. There is much that both our countries can achieve by working together and much we can learn from each other," Dr Tan said.

Dr Tan noted that many of Singapore's earliest settlers were of Indian origin, among them prominent community leaders who played crucial roles in the country's development. And India remained a close friend after 1965.

"As a new nation, we looked to India as one of our models, and India generously responded by sharing its experiences with us."

Dr Tan said Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had been inspired by India's founding father Jawaharlal Nehru's vision of a secular and multiracial India.

He also noted that then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong sparked off an "India Fever" in Singapore in 1992, shortly after India launched economic reforms.

"That fever is now back again," said Dr Tan.

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