India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana in Singapore June 1, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

Singapore (VNA) – Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi on May 31 hailed the warm and close relations between India and Singapore, saying the two countries will step into the future together.

"When India opened up to the world and turned to the East, Singapore became a partner and a bridge between India and ASEAN. Political relations between India and Singapore are among the warmest and closest,” Modi told the Indian community in an event in Singapore. The defence relations between the two nations are among the strongest and the two sides are building a “partnership of our age,” he added.

On the same day, PM Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Le Hsien Loong attended a business event to enhance connectivity between the two nations’ enterprises.

Modi arrived in Singapore on May 31 on the last leg of his tour of three Southeast Asian nations – Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The three-day visit is also his second official visit to Singapore this year, reflecting the importance of the city state and ASEAN at large in India’s “Act East” Policy.

The India-Singapore relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership during Modi’s visit to the city state in 2015. There are five areas of cooperation to enhance the bilateral relations – scaling up trade and investment, stepping up connectivity, smart cities and urban rejuvenation, skill development and state focus.

Singapore is India’s second largest trade partner among the ten ASEAN member states. After the two sides signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement in 2005, bilateral trade hit 16.7 billion USD in 2016-17, according to the External Affairs Ministry of India.-VNA