Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held crucial bilateral talks with Seychelles President Danny Faure, who is on six-day visit to India. The defence and security ties between the two countries were the key agenda at the meeting. At the end, the two nations inked six MoUs and agreed to work together on Assumption Island project based on each other's rights.
Days before the visit, Faure had said a joint project with New Delhi to develop a naval base at Assumption Island in his country would not move forward. 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 have given New Delhi a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region.
Faure’s state visit, part of regular high-level exchanges between India and Seychelles, will accord an opportunity to review wide-ranging bilateral cooperation including in the fields of defence and security and development partnership, the MEA had earlier said.
Also read | Amid ongoing diplomatic tiff over Assumption Island deal, Seychelles President Danny Faure arrives on six-day visit to India
Here are the LIVE Updates:
02:14 pm: PM Narendra Modi and President of Seychelles Danny Faure witness signing of 6 MoUs between India and Seychelles.
02:14 pm: Under leadership of PM Modi, India has visionary understanding of what's at stake, especially in terms of security and defence and to address challenges of our time when it comes to climate change, multilateral trade negotiations&bridge gaps of inequality: President of Seychelles Danny Faure
02:14 pm: We have agreed to work together on Assumption Island project based on each other's rights.: PM Modi.
02:13 pm: India announces USD 100 million credit to Seychelles for augmenting its maritime defence capability: PM Modi
02:10 pm: India, Seychelles committed to maintaining peace and stability in Indian Ocean region: PM Modi after talks with Seychelles Prez.
01:57 pm: Six agreements signed between India and Seychelles after talks between PM Narendra Modi and Seychelles President Danny Faure.
01:22 pm: Delhi: Seychelles President Danny Faure and PM Narendra Modi held delegation level talks at Hyderabad House.
12:23 pm: Welcoming the esteemed guest at Hyderabad House! PM @narendramodi received the President of Seychelles Danny Antoine Rollen Faure for bilateral talks. Special ties with a maritime neighbour, tweets MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
11:20 am: PM Narendra Modi inquired about health of an IAF guard who fell down after a heat stroke at ceremonial reception of Seychelles President Danny Faure at Rashtrapati Bhavan earlier today
11:03 am: Relationship which is deep-rooted & historical! EAM @SushmaSwaraj calls on President of #Seychelles Danny Faure in New Delhi. Good discussion on expanding bilateral cooperation in all areas, specially capacity building, human resource development and people-to-people contacts, tweets MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
10:07 am: Mutually beneficial relationship based on shared values and commitment to the ideals of democracy and development! President of Seychelles Danny Antoine Rollen Faure was accorded a ceremonial welcome @Rashtrapatibhvn by President Ram Nath Kovind and PM @narendramodi, tweets MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
10:00 am: Seychelles President, who is here to hold crucial bilateral talks on defence and security ties with PM Modi, visited Rajghat and paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi before reaching Rashtrapati Bhawan earlier in the day.
09:39 am: I am in a great country. The relationship between India and Seychelles is excellent. My presence here is to take this relationship to newer heights: President of the Republic of Seychelles Danny Faure at Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi.
09:35 am: President of the Republic of Seychelles Danny Faure receives ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. He was received by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
When Seychelles said no to India
At a press conference on June 4, Faure had said Seychelles will develop military facilities at the island on its own and that the project with India “will not move forward”. He had also said the issue would not be discussed with the Indian leadership during his visit to New Delhi.
India was keen on developing the Assumption Island as a naval base to expand its footprint in the strategically-key region where China has been trying to enhance its military presence.
The agreement on the Assumption Island between India and Seychelles was first signed in 2015 during Modi’s visit to that country.
An updated version of the original deal was finalised by the two sides earlier this year. However, opposition leaders in Seychelles came out openly against the agreement after the original document as well as the revised version of it surfaced online in March.
The naval base on the Assumption Island was a crucial part of India's maritime strategy ''SAGAR' – Security and Growth for All in the Region', announced by PM Modi during a visit to Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) countries in March 2015.
The decision by the Seychelles President to drop the deal in the face of protests over a perceived loss of sovereignty is a blow to the government’s maritime plans, which India hopes to use to counter China's growing influence in the Indian Ocean and Arab Sea through its Maritime Silk Route.
It also comes amid India’s troubles with another IOR country, the Maldives, where the government has demanded that India withdraw two helicopters, pilots and personnel from its atolls that had been sent there to help with maritime patrols.
Discussions regarding development of Assumption Island began in 2003, but were formalised in 2015, during PM Modi’s visit. The deal was to include a 20-year access to the base, as well as permission to station some military personnel on ground with facilities on the island funded by India, owned by the Seychelles and jointly managed by both sides. In a reply in Parliament, the Ministry said that the agreement was “renegotiated” at the request of the Government of Seychelles in January to help push the deal through the National Assembly.
But the strong opposition in by Seychelles' opposition party has left the years of negotiations futile.
Schedule of Seychelles President's six-day visit to India
Faure, who arrived in Delhi on Sunday after visiting Ahmedabad and Goa, was received by Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar. “Connected by ‘SAGAR’ – Security and Growth for All in the Region”! President of Seychelles Danny Antoine Rollen Faure warmly received by MoS @mjakbar at Delhi airport on his first bilateral visit to India,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
Faure landed in Gujarat Friday as part of his six-day India tour. He visited the Sabarmati Ashram on Saturday, where Mahatma Gandhi lived between 1917 and 1930. Faure also visited the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIMA), where he held a meeting with the institute’s director, Errol D’Souza. During the visit, Faure will also visit Uttarakhand.\
(With inputs from PTI)