Modi describes Singapore as Asia’s economic lion

Singapore, Nov 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday described Singapore as Asia’s economic lion which has been a major partner in India’s transformation.

“The Asiatic lion may now only be found in Gujarat. Asia’s economic lion is to be found here – in Singapore,” Modi said at a banquet lunch hosted in his honour by Singapore Premier Lee Hsien Loong on the second day of his bilateral visit to this southeast Asian city state.

Stating that Singapore was a metaphor of the reality of dreams, Modi said: “And, Singapore achieved it without a vast expanse of territory or the gifts of nature. For this reason, it is a symbol of aspiration for people and a source of inspiration for nations around the world.”

He also said that Singapore’s efforts to advance prosperity, stability and harmony, in the region were greatly appreciated.

He hailed the bilateral relations between India and Singapore.

“Singapore was India’s springboard to the world and gateway to the east,” the Indian prime minister said.

“Now, Singapore is already a major partner in almost every area of priority in India’s transformation.”

Modi said India was a land of boundless opportunities for Singapore.

“We are also working closely – to keep our continent peaceful; our maritime routes secure and free; our citizens safe; and, our cyber networks protected,” he said.

“I am pleased that we have elevated it (India-Singapore relationship) to a strategic partnership. This is a decision prime minister (Lee) and I did not take lightly. We will fulfill the responsibility that comes with strategic partnership,” he added.

India and Singapore on Tuesday signed a joined declaration on strategic partnership and nine accords cutting across various sectors following talks between Modi and Lee.

After the signing of the documents, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted that the two prime ministers noted the importance of culture between the two countries and encouraged more exhibitions, exchanges and interactions.

Modi and Lee noted their shared interest in furthering cooperation in the areas of science and technology, particularly in space, biomedicine and ayurveda, the spokesperson added.

The two prime ministers also released two postal stamps showing Rashtrapati Bhavan and Istana, the Singaporean presidential palace, to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Earlier on Tuesday, Modi was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Istana following which he met Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Modi arrived in Singapore from Malaysia on Monday in the second and last leg of his four-day visit to southeast Asia.

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