Singapore ‘Satisfied’ With India’s Response On COVID-19 Diplomatic Hiccup

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been successful in ironing out the diplomatic hiccup created by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s comments on Singapore. Post External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar’s commitment on India-Singapore bilateral relations, the city-state has said it is ‘satisfied’ with India’s response.

“We would want to put an end to this episode, we are heartened by those clarifications made by the External Affairs Minister Jaishankar ji we want to move ahead with the task ahead,” Singapore’s High Commissioner To India Simon Wong said on Wednesday.

During a briefing he said, based on the clarifications from Government of India, Singapore  wants to keep this behind.

Refuting the statement made by Delhi Government, Wong said, “We reserve the right to Invoke POFMA some of the comments made by the Chief Minister made. Prominent political office holders have a responsibility not to spread falsehoods.”

Issuing a statement earlier in the day, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “MFA regrets the unfounded assertions made on Facebook and Twitter by Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal that a variant of COVID-19 found in Singapore was particularly harmful to children and could cause a third wave of infections in India. As highlighted by MOH in its press release of 18 May 2021, there is no “Singapore variant”. The strain prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in India.”

Assured by clarifications made by Dr S Jaishankar, he said, “My job is to deal with bilateral relations. I am very assured at the clarifications made by MEA and Dr Jaishankar.”

Thanking External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar for his intervention with regards to Delhi CM’s comments, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said both countries should “focus on resolving the situation in our respective countries and helping one another. Nobody is safe until everyone is safe”.

Reacting to Kejriwal’s comments, Dr Jaishankar said, “Singapore and India have been solid partners in the fight against Covid-19. Appreciate Singapore’s role as a logistics hub and oxygen supplier. Their gesture of deploying military aircraft to help us speaks of our exceptional relationship.”

Hitting out at Kejriwal, he also said, “However, irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships. So, let me clarify- Delhi CM does not speak for India.”

“The new form of coronavirus in Singapore is said to be very dangerous for children. It could reach India in the form of a third wave. My appeal to the Central government: 1. Cancel all air services with Singapore with immediate effect 2. Work on vaccine alternatives for children on a priority basis,” Kejriwal had said in a tweet in Hindi.

Singapore has meanwhile clarified that they deal with the virus in scientific terms as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which had clarified that it does not identify any virus or their variants by country names from which they originated. WHO had said that they referred to the virus strains by their scientific name and further requested all others to do the same.

WHO has classified three strains as variants of concern: B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the UK; B.1.351, first detected in South Africa, and the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil. Recently, it also classified the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, as a variant of concern at the global level.

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