India Abroad

Boost To Indian Military, Infrastructure Agreement Signed With Seychelles

| January 28 , 2018 , 13:58 IST

India and the island nation of Seychelles signed a revised agreement on Saturday which will allow India to expand its strategic reach in the Indian Ocean by building military infrastructure on Assumption Island, one of the outer islands of Seychelles. The agreement with Seychelles was signed by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.

In a statement, Jaishankar said, "India and Seychelles have drawn up a cooperation agenda that covers within its purview joint efforts in anti-piracy operations, and enhanced EEZ surveillance and monitoring to prevent intrusions by potential economic offenders indulging in illegal fishing, poaching, drug and human trafficking. The cooperation is further exemplified by the operationalisation of the Coastal Surveillance Radar System in March 2016, and our commitment to augment Seychelles' defence assets and capability."

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The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure termed the agreement as of utmost importance to the island nation.  

"This project is of utmost importance to Seychelles, and it attests to the kinship and affinity that exists between our two countries. We are proud to have India as a partner in realising our development aspirations," Faure said.

Although the agreement was initially signed in 2015 during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Seychelles, it was not fully cleared by the Seychelles parliament by its previous president James Michel.

In August 2017, the new Seychelles President Danny Faure indicated that the deal would have to be re-negotiated.

"We would like to relook at the agreement which does not have a legal statute on the Seychelles side. But for India, it has a legal statute. We have to go back to the drawing board," Faure had said in August.

The deal was adjusted and passed by the Seychelles cabinet on January 22, 2018.

"Cabinet agreed on the main purpose of the agreement which is to provide a framework for assistance to the Government of Seychelles by the Government of India to enhance the military capabilities in control and maritime surveillance of our EEZ, protection of our EEZ and the outer islands and search and rescue in the region for the benefit of air and shipping traffic," an official statement said.

The agreement has great importance for India, as it will help the nation mark a military presence on both Seychelles and Mauritius, extending its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean area.