India's profound role in conducting wide-ranging multi-lateral and bilateral naval exercises proves its commitment towards the Act East Policy and an inclusive, open and balanced Indo-Pacific region, India's High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf has said.
Speaking at a reception on board INS Kolkata on May 15, Ashraf said that the multi-lateral and bilateral naval exercises are part of India's growing strategic engagement and defence diplomacy in the South East Asian region.
INS Kolkata and INS Shakti are participating in a three-day International Maritime Defence Exhibition Asia (IMDEX) that commenced here on May 14.
"India conducts wide-ranging multi-lateral and bilateral naval exercises in the region and that complements the country's diplomatic, economic, developmental and cultural ties in the region," he said at the event held to celebrate the success of the Indian Navy in recent exercises and responses to disaster and rescue operations.
The IMDEX Asia-2019 also witnessed the participation of some of India's leading engineering and ship building firms, including Larsen & Toubro and BrahMos, which makes the state-of-the-art air, sea and ground launch cruise missiles.
Following the IMDEX, Indian Naval ships together with an Indian Navy surveillance aircraft P8I will participate in the 26th edition of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) scheduled from May 16 to 22.
In a couple of days from now we (India and Singapore) will begin our bilateral exercises that reaffirms India's commitment to its Act East Policy and our shared commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and to uphold a rule-based order, Ashraf said.
Having just completed multi-lateral exercises with navies from 28 countries, India and Singapore will commence 26th SIMBEX, which is the longest uninterrupted bilateral naval exercise in the world.
"The 26th SIMBEX is taking place 6 months after the last edition that took place in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal from November 11 to 21 last year, Ashraf said, stressing the importance of regular exercises between the two nations' defence forces.
The 25th SIMBEX involved live weapon firings and complex military maneuvers, including those of aircraft and submarines. It was witnessed by Singapore's Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen.
Together, we are expanding our horizon into multi-national exercises, working together in Asean Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus, Exercise MILAN and working in trilateral format, Ashraf said.
This is a way we will work together to pursue our shared objectives of a peaceful and prosperous future for Asia and beyond, he added.
The Indian envoy said that as India has expanded its global footprint and looks more and more beyond its shores and engages with the world.
He said that the Indian navy has been at the forefront as a true flag bearer of India's democratic values and traditional ethos and true ambassadors of goodwill.
Wherever they have gone, they have only left friendship behind and memories of a professional and extraordinary navy willing to serve humanity and mankind, he said, citing the recent response of three Indian training ships reaching out to Mozambique in March 2019 as a first to respond and help the nation hit by grave cyclone that caused devastation along the entire coastline.
He also recalled a similar response by Indian ships, which were diverted from Singapore to Indonesia in October 2018 after an earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi.
The navy men always have been the white knight of hope at the time of conflict and disaster and they truly, in the creed of our country, in the values of our democracy and in the value that all navies, have worked for man and humanity, Ashraf said.
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