Port Louis: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday stated that maritime security is of vital importance to both Mauritius and India.
The Union Minister said that the Indian Navy is committed to ensuring safety of the sea lanes in the Indian Ocean.
"Maritime security is of vital significance for an island nation like Mauritius as well as for a country with a vast coastline like India. A large part of our trade passes through the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. Safety and security of the sea-lanes is thus indispensible for our territorial, economic and energy security. The Indian Navy is committed to ensuring the safety and security of these sea-lanes in cooperation with the National Coast Guard of Mauritius. This is important for safeguarding our common national interests," said Swaraj during her three-day visit to Mauritius.
"We have three ships from the Western Fleet of the Indian Navy docked in Mauritian waters, namely, INS Mumbai, INS Deepak and INS Talwar. These ships have been deployed to Mauritius with a view to qualitatively enhancing our long standing and multi-faceted cooperation in ensuring peace, stability and maritime security in the Indian Ocean region," she added.
Speaking on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Aapravasi Diwas, which marks the date when the first Indians arrived in Mauritius to work as indentured labourers, Swaraj also said that India's naval presence in the country would enhance the relations between New Delhi and Port Louis.
"I am sure that the presence of the Indian Navy ships on this occasion of the 180th anniversary of Aapravasi Diwas will qualitatively enhance our long standing and multi-faceted cooperation in ensuring peace, stability and maritime security in the Indian Ocean region," she said.
"I am also sure that this will go a long way in further strengthening our deep-rooted cooperation and that our friendship, including in defence sector, will grow from strength to strength in times to come," Swaraj added.
India is Mauritius' largest trading partner and has been the largest exporter of goods to Mauritius since 2007. In the financial year 2012-2013, India exported goods worth USD 1.31 billion and imported goods worth USD 28.49 million. There are over 10,000 Indian nationals living in Mauritius , including 6865 work permit holders and 696 professional occupation permit holders.