Maritime security utmost important for India, Seychelles: S. Jaishankar

ANI | Updated: Jan 27, 2018 23:37 IST

Victoria [Seychelles], Jan 27 (ANI): Foreign Secretary of India S. Jaishankar on Saturday reiterated that maritime security was of utmost importance for India and Seychelles and that there should be constant cooperation and collective action to tackle such challenges affecting the maritime borders of both the countries.

In a statement, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar said, "Relations with countries in the Indian Ocean Region and nurturing a climate of peace and stability are important cornerstones of India's foreign policy. Our vision for the region is based on cooperation and collective action to tackle maritime security challenges."

He also praised Narendra Modi's vision of ensuring maritime security from external matters.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his landmark visit to the region in March 2015 clearly articulated our Indian Ocean doctrine. In his words, and I quote, "Our goal is 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; an increase in maritime cooperation. We seek a future for Indian Ocean that lives up to the name of 'SAGAR' - Security And Growth for All in the Region". SAGAR in Hindi means the Ocean. This SAGAR doctrine succinctly outlines our vision for the region with collaboration as its backbone," Foreign Secretary Jaishankar added in the statement.

The Foreign Secretary maintained that India and Seychelles agreed to cooperate on defence and security, that is vital for ensuring the security of the maritime borders in both the countries.

"It is in pursuance of this approach that India and Seychelles 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. Seychelles with its Exclusive Economic Zone spread over 1.3 million square kilometres is particularly vulnerable," Foreign Secretary Jaishankar continued.

Adding, "Recognising this, India and Seychelles have drawn up a cooperation agenda that covers within its purview joint 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 cooperation is further exemplified by the operationalisation of the Coastal Surveillance Radar System in March 2016, and our commitment to augment Seychelles' defence assets and capability. We are proud of the role played by Patrol Ships Topaz, Constant and Hermes and the Dornier Aircraft in securing the resource-rich waters of Seychelles. In recognition of our strategic convergence in the Indian Ocean region, the Agreement that we sign today is an incremental step forward in further deepening our cooperation in the spirit of our unique bilateral ties," he explained.

The Foreign Secretary was optimistic that relation between India and Seychelles have been warm and friendly since Seychelles' independence and added the relations have become more cordial and harmonious over the last few years.

"Indeed, we are proud of our close bond of friendship with the Republic of Seychelles that has stood the test of time. We embarked on the journey together when Seychelles was born as a sovereign nation four decades ago."

"On June 29 1976, when Seychelles celebrated its independence, India was there with a large contingent onboard a naval ship to partake in your celebrations and heartily welcome Seychelles into the comity of sovereign nations. Our traditional linkages have now culminated into a mutually beneficial relationship based on shared values and commitment to the ideals of democracy and development."

Foreign Secretary Jaishankar continued that India will remain committed to the development needs of Seychelles and that all challenges would be addressed collectively.

He said, "India is committed to further expanding its development partnership with Seychelles. We will be happy to collaborate with the Government of Seychelles in implementing your priority projects through a mix of grants and Lines of Credit."

Adding, "We in India greatly value our bilateral engagement with Seychelles. We have withstood several global challenges together, ranging from the threat of climate change to the piracy menace. Notwithstanding the turbulent waters, our partnership has had a smooth sailing. This reinforces our commitment to not only further deepen India-Seychelles relations but also take our partnership to the next level."

Earlier, India and Seychelles signed a revised agreement on the Development, Management, Operation and Maintenance of Facilities, that will allow India to build military infrastructure on Assumption Island at Seychelles, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office in Victoria on Saturday.

The agreement was signed by Foreign Secretary Jaishankar and Seychelles President Danny Faure.

The original agreement was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then Seychelles President James Michel. But, it was not ratified by the Seychelles Parliament, leading to delays.

In August last year, Faure stated that the agreement had some "issues" and it would have to be re-negotiated again.

Foreign Secretary Jaishankar flew into Seychelles in October and started the re-negotiations over the original agreement. Some amendments were proposed and the Seychelles Parliament had ratified it ultimately, after Faure had consulted with the opposition parties and his cabinet on January 22.

In 2015, Prime Minister Modi made a visit to the island nation after 34 years. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi earlier visited Seychelles back in 1981. (ANI)