Seeking to enlarge the task of anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean region, India on Monday agreed to provide aircraft to Seychelles and also work in the direction of capacity building of that country's forces.

Responding to the request during an interaction with the leadership of Seychelles, Defence Minister A.K. Antony agreed to extend help to carry out maritime and Exclusive Economic Zone surveillance operations.

Mr. Antony, who is on a two-day visit to Mahe, met President James Alix Michel, Vice-President Danny Faure, Minister for Home Affairs Joel Morgan, and Foreign Minister Jean Paul Adam, Defence Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said here.

Underscoring the problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden that affects all countries of the world, Mr. Antony shared the concerns of Seychelles on the increasing reach of pirates.

“This is a problem which calls for cooperation among all countries. The Indian Ocean links us all and is critical for our economic interests. We must cooperate to ensure peace and stability in this region,” he said.

Assurance

Mr. Antony reiterated New Delhi's assurance — as conveyed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during President Michel's visit to India earlier — of continued cooperation in all fields, especially defence and security. Dr. Singh had announced a $5 million assistance for defence-related projects for Seychelles.

Besides this, on a specific request from Seychelles, Mr. Antony agreed to provide, at the earliest, a new Dornier aircraft and two Chetak helicopters from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for maritime surveillance.

Although the normal delivery time is 18-24 months, he said New Delhi would make an effort to deliver it in 15 months.

India will provide one of its in-service Dornier aircraft to carry out maritime surveillance.

Additional visits

Mr. Antony said the Navy would also make additional visits to Seychelles this year for surveillance and hydrographic surveys.

During these visits, personnel from Seychelles would be allowed to board Indian ships for maintenance training and conducting drills and exercises.

Mr. Antony also agreed to offer help for capacity building of the Seychellois forces.

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