Cementing its strategic partnership with Seychelles, India on Wednesday signed four agreements with the Indian Ocean island nation to boost security and maritime partnership.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived here on Tuesday on a brief visit on the first leg of his three-nation tour, on Wednesday held talks with Seychelles President James Alix Michel and said Seychelles “is a vital partner in our Indian Ocean neighbourhood”.
“Short it may be, but this visit has been very productive. It is no surprise that Seychelles is my first destination in the Indian Ocean Region,” Modi, the first Prime Minister to visit Seychelles in 34 years, said.
Late premier Indira Gandhi had visited the country in 1981.
Meeting the press after his meeting with Michel, Modi announced that India will give a second Dronier aircraft to the country.
“Our security partnership is strong. It has enabled us to fulfil our shared responsibility to advance maritime security in the region,” Modi said, calling the country as a trusted friend and strategic partner.
Modi and Michel witnessed the signing of four agreements: cooperation in hydrography, renewable energy, infrastructure development and sale of navigation charts and electronic navigational charts.
“Our agreement today on hydrographic survey adds a new dimension to our maritime cooperation. I thank Seychelles for their confidence in India,” Modi said.
“We also hope that Seychelles will soon be a full partner in the maritime security cooperation between India, Maldives and Sri Lanka,” he said.
Prime Minister also announced that India would grant free visas for three months to the citizens of Seychelles.
“We will also extend to you the facility of visa-on-arrival,” he said.
“Our relationship is unique and special. It is founded on deep sense of mutual trust and confidence. It is marked by a spirit of respect and equality; and enormous goodwill and warmth,” he said, adding “It is a privilege to be a partner of Seychelles in the development of its security capabilities.”
Modi and Michel also agreed to establish a Joint Working Group to expand cooperation on the blue economy to harness new possibilities of the ocean in a sustainable and balanced manner.
“Seychelles is a leader in advancing the concept of Blue Economy. We also believe that the Ocean Economy is indispensable to meeting our future challenges,” Modi said.
“This cooperation will increase our understanding of marine ecology and resources,” he said.
“This is a major step in advancing our scientific and economic cooperation,” the Prime Minister said.
“We stressed our support for expansion in our modest trade and investment relations.”
Modi expressed hope that Seychelles would be able to quickly utilise the committed USD 75 million in grants and credit in accordance with its priorities.
He thanked President Michel for his country’s consistent support to India in international forums, including its bid for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Calling India a leader, Michel said his country looks up to India. He said he looks forward to visit India.
Modi said the two countries have strong convergence of views on climate change.
“We are two nations that are vulnerable to its impact. And, we are deeply committed to combating it,” he said.
“We stressed our shared commitment to strong national action. We also called for a strong and ambitious global effort, especially from the developed world, on climate change,” the Prime Minister said.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval were part of the Indian delegation during talks with President Michel at the State House in Victoria.