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India, Seychelles talk of ‘mutual welfare’ on Assumption Island project

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Seychelles President Danny Antoine Rollen Faure at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on June 25, 2018.   | Photo Credit: PTI

India and Seychelles will ensure mutually beneficial steps regarding stalled plans for a military base at the island of Assumption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Speaking at Hyderabad House here at the end of a bilateral meeting with visiting Seychelles President Danny Faure, Mr. Modi announced several initiatives for the strategically located country that included the grant of a major Line of Credit (LoC) for purchase of defence hardware.

“On the project of Assumption island, we have agreed to work for the welfare of each other,” said Mr. Modi, welcoming the visiting President.

Crucial for defence

The statement is the first from the Prime Minister since the National Assembly of Seychelles last week refused to ratify the naval base that India has been planning to build on the island of Assumption to provide a foot- hold in the western Indian Ocean.

The island has been at the centre of high profile maritime diplomacy between India and Seychelles, which was boosted with Prime Minister Modi’s 2015 visit.

In his remarks, President Faure also stated that both sides remain engaged on the issue. “(We) will continue to work together, bearing each other’s interest in mind,” said Mr. Faure.

It is not clear how both sides would take the project forward in the absence of a parliamentary ratification.

Security cooperation

However, India made it clear that its security and strategic cooperation will go ahead with Seychelles by declaring a major Line of Credit for the defence sector.

“I am happy in announcing a $100 million Line of Credit for Seychelles that it can use to buy military hardware from India for building its maritime capacity,” said Mr. Modi, elaborating that India and Seychelles have convergence of views on the geostrategic importance of the Indian Ocean region.

He also declared that both sides would intensify cooperation to carry out hydrographical studies of the maritime region and have declared exchange of necessary oceanic maps between two sides.

India also gifted a Dornier aircraft to Seychelles. “This will reach on time to participate in the June 29 National Day of Seychelles,” said Prime Minister Modi.

“We have expressed our strong desire to elevate our bilateral relation to a comprehensive partnership of greater strategic partnership,” said Mr Faure.

India also declared that India will remain committed to Seychelles’ development.

“India is ready to finance three civilian infrastructure projects in Seychelles under Special Grant. Government House, New Police Headquarters and the Office of the Attorney General is included in this,” declared Prime Minister Modi.

India will remain committed to capacity development of Seychelles.

“India will send officials to Seychelles to support the country for projects that it decides for itself,” Prime Minister Modi said.

President Faure expressed his country’s appreciation of the Indian moves and said that his country will soon be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the Indian origin people to the archipelago.

The Prime Minister also thanked the visiting President for gifting two large Aldabra turtles that are unique and are known to live for centuries.

Six agreements

Both sides sealed six agreements including one that will twin Panjim in Goa with Victoria of Seychelles.

President Faure arrived in Gujarat on 22 June and has travelled to Goa before reaching Delhi on Sunday.

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Printable version | Oct 30, 2020 2:10:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-seychelles-to-work-for-mutual-welfare-on-assumption-island-narendra-modi/article24254027.ece

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