Home >Politics >Policy >Seychelles stands by pact on Indian marine facility

New Delhi: Seychelles on Monday signalled its readiness to continue with a 2015 agreement with India to develop a coast guard facility on Assomption Island—one of the many making up the archipelago nation—after talks between the top leaders of the two countries.

The messaging from Seychelles is key after news reports quoted Seychelles President Danny Faure as saying that the project had been cancelled because of pressure from the Seychelles opposition and doubts over the pact being ratified by the Seychelles parliament.

The 2015 pact was seen as important in the context of India underlining its presence in the Indian Ocean region against the backdrop of China increasing its profile in the region considered India’s backyard.

“In the context of maritime security, Assomption Island was discussed," said Faure, who is in India on a five-day visit to India. “We are equally engaged and will continue to work together bearing each other’s interests in mind," Faure said about the project after talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The pact to build the facility was signed in 2015 during Modi’s visit to Seychelles—one of three stops during a tour of Indian Ocean region countries. During the tour, Modi also visited Mauritius, with New Delhi outlining plans to set up a similar facility in Mauritius’ Agalega Island.

According to one of the people cited above, the two facilities were meant to be “surveillance" posts—part of a chain of 30-40 radar stations across the Indian Ocean region. However, news reports had then reported that India was looking to develop the two as military bases—something that seemed to have triggered protests in both Seychelles and Mauritius.

The protests in Seychelles led to India and the Indian Ocean country modifying the 2015 agreement earlier this year with New Delhi agreeing not to use the facility in case of a war, or for deploying any nuclear assets.

On Monday, Faure described his talks with Modi as “frank and productive" and added that India was one of his countries’ “most reliable partners."

On his part, Modi seemed to echo Faure’s words when he said that “on Assomption island, we are in agreement to work together keeping in mind the good of each other."

Modi underlined the closeness between India and Seychelles connected by the Indian Ocean as he announced a $100 million line of credit for Seychelles to buy Indian military hardware to secure its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“There is great strategic convergence between us on meeting security challenges posed in the maritime domain," Modi said after talks with Faure that he described as “constructive."

“As partners, it is our responsibility that we secure our exclusive economic zone" from drugs, piracy, human trafficking and illegal exploitation of ocean resources, Modi said.

“India is committed to strengthening maritime infrastructure and defence capabilities of the Seychelles" to help it “meet conventional and non conventional security challenges," Modi said, adding that it was in “this context that India will be extending $100 million dollars as line of credit to Seychelles."

Modi also announced a special grant for Seychelles for the construction of infrastructure including a police academy building, a government house and a new office for the attorney general.

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