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Strategic deal: Seychelles allows India to build military infra on island

Jaishankar said that India and Seychelles have over the years built an elaborate architecture of defence and security cooperation

IANS  |  Victoria/New Delhi 

S Jaishankar
S Jaishankar (left) in Seychelles on an imp bilateral visit, on his last foreign visit as foreign secy had wide-ranging discussions Secretary of State of India in Seychelles Barry Faur (right). (Photo: twitter.com/hci_seychelles)

In a significant step to New Delhi's quest for influence in the region, has signed an agreement with the archipelago nation of for the development, management, operation and maintenance of facilities on

The island in is leased to for the operation of a naval base and air strip by the

and signed the agreement on Saturday.

"Relations with countries in the Region and nurturing a climate of peace and stability are important cornerstones of India's foreign policy," Jaishankar said following the signing of the agreement.

"Our vision for the region is based on cooperation and collective action to tackle maritime security challenges."

Jaishankar referred to Narendra Modi's remarks during his visit to the in March 2015 when the latter said that India's goal was to seek a climate of trust and transparency, respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries, sensitivity to each other's interests, peaceful resolution of maritime issues, and increase in maritime cooperation.

"We seek a future for that lives up to the name of Sagar - an acronym that stands for Security And Growth for All in the Region", Jaishankar said.

Sagar is an Indian initiative to have a positive effect on sea-borne trade.

India, after leasing Assumption Island, began preparations for infrastructure development, including quarters for the Coast Guard and fixing the airstrip on the remote island where there is very little human activity.

and have had cooperation in the field of defence and maritime security for many years, which has seen helping to patrol the waters and gifting several equipment to the People's Defence Forces (SPDF).

During Modi's 2015 visit, announced gifting of a second Dornier surveillance aircraft to the Coast Guard to increase maritime security. gifted its first Dornier in 2013.

and the had inked an agreement in the course of that visit to develop infrastructure on Assumption Island, which lies 1,140 km southwest of the mainland of Mahe, and is one of the 115 islands that constitute

Jaishankar said that and have over the years built an elaborate architecture of defence and security cooperation.

"As two maritime neighbours, we have a stake in each other's security and safety. with its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spread over 1.3 million square km is particularly vulnerable," he stated.

"Recognising this, and have drawn up a cooperation agenda that covers within its purview shared 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 said that the India-cooperation was further exemplified by the operationalisation of the Coastal Surveillance Radar System in March 2016, "and our commitment to augment defence assets and capability of Seychelles".

"We are proud of the role played by patrol ships Topaz, Constant and and the Dornier aircraft in securing the resource rich waters of Seychelles," he stated.

"In recognition of our strategic convergence in the region, the agreement that we sign today is an important step forward in the further deepening of our cooperation in the spirit of our unique bilateral ties," he added.

--IANS

ab/qd

First Published: Sun, January 28 2018. 13:31 IST
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