Seychelles backs out of joint naval base with India at Assumption Island

There has been growing political opposition in Seychelles to a pact it signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at the island.

Seychelles backs out of joint naval base with India at Assumption Island

New Delhi: Ahead of his India visit, Seychelles President Danny Faure has 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 a pact it signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at the island which would have given India a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region.

Government sources said Faure would arrive in New Delhi on June 26 on a bilateral visit during which a range of issues to strengthen two-way cooperation would be discussed

At a press conference on June 4, Faure had said Seychelles would develop military facilities at the island on its own and that the project with India "will not move forward".

According to the Seychelles News Agency, he said, “In next year's budget, we will put funds for us to build a coastguard facility on the Assumption ourselves. It is important for us to ensure that we have a military post in this area." He had also said the issue would not be discussed with the Indian leadership during his visit to New Delhi.

The Ministry of External Affairs has not commented on the issue.

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 pact on the Assumption Island between India and Seychelles was first signed in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to that country. An updated version of the original pact was finalised by the two sides earlier this year.

However, opposition leaders in Seychelles came out openly against the pact after the original document as well as the revised version of it surfaced online in March.

After the furore, the Seychelles president said he would not approach the country's parliament to ratify the agreement with India. Seychelles had ordered an inquiry into the leak of highly classified agreement.

Modi and Faure had a bilateral meeting in April on the sidelines of the multilateral Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London.

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