India, Seychelles agree on naval project, sign 6 agreements

India and Seychelles on Monday agreed to work together on a project to develop a naval facility at the Assumption Island and increase defence cooperation, keeping in view the interests of both countries.

After talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Seychells President Danny Antoine Rollen Faure, India also announced a $100-million credit to Seychelles for augmenting its defence capabilities.
“With this credit, Seychelles will be able to buy defence equipment to boost its maritime capacity,” Prime Minister Modi said in his joint media statement with Faure.
Seychells had earlier rejected the idea of India developing a naval base on its territory. Now that the misunderstanding about the project has been cleared, the development of the naval base would give India a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region, Modi said, “We have agreed to work together on the Assumption Island project based on each other’s rights.”
Faure, in his remarks, said the Assumption Island project was discussed and the two countries equally engaged to work together bearing each other’s interests.
Faure said defence cooperation has been a major component of relations between the two countries. As maritime neighbours, we are committed to securing our oceanic space for sustained development, he said.
Seychelles, he said, will remain a "faithful friend" and a partner to India at a function organised to hand over a second Dornier aircraft to the island nation, which would boost its capacity to conduct maritime surveillance.
"Today marks another mile-stone in our defence cooperation. On behalf of people of Seychelles, I would like to say thank you. The second Dornier will amplify our capacity to conduct maritime surveillance over Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.7 million sq kms. Seychelles will remain a faithful friend and a partner to India," the president said.
The President of India Ram Nath Kovind today received the Seychelles President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and also hosted a banquet in his honour.
Welcoming Faure to India, the President said that India recognises the leadership role of Seychelles in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and on climate change and maritime security issues.  Seychelles has also emerged as the top African country in the Human Development Index. It has consistently figured among the top five ranking countries in Africa for overall governance.  He complimented the government of Seychelles for these extraordinary achievements.
The President said India has a robust defence, security and strategic cooperation with Seychelles. India-Seychelles strategic convergence has reinforced the resolve to secure their oceanic space, in the region and beyond. India views the Indian Ocean and the Pacific as a contiguous construct sharing similar economic opportunities and security challenges. Our vision is for a free, open, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, based on a rules-based order and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said.
Faure, who is on his first bilateral visit to India, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Modi this morning. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj also called on the visiting leader and discussed with him expanding bilateral cooperation in key areas, including capacity building and human resource development.
The Seychelles president had landed in Gujarat on Friday as part of his six-day India tour and visited the Sabarmati Ashram on Saturday, where Mahatma Gandhi lived between 1917 and 1930. Faure also visited the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, where he held a meeting with the Institute’s director Errol D’Souza.
After visiting Ahmedabad and Goa, he arrived in Delhi yesterday and was received by minister of state for external affairs M J Akbar.
There has been growing political opposition in Seychelles to an agreement it signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at the island which would give New Delhi a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region.