India pledges major financial package for Seychelles

Seychelles assured India that it would be a "rock of dependability" for New Delhi in the area and thanked it for the support in combating piracy.

Victoria: Seeking to take its relations with Seychelles to new heights, India on Monday announced a USD 75 million financial package for the country and agreed to train police personnel in the strategically located Indian Ocean archipelago, affected by piracy.

After her "very fruitful" talks with her Seychelles counterpart, James Michel, President Pratibha Patil said that India would extend USD 50 million Line of Credit and a grant of USD 25 million to this island republic.

The package is significant as compared to the earlier assistance, officials said.

The two MoUs includes one on police research under which police personnel of the island republic will receive training from India`s Bureau of Police Research and Development. The second MoU was on cooperation in youth and sports affairs to facilitate greater people to people contact.

The MoUs were signed in the presence of President Patil and her counterpart Michel by Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot and Seychelles Foreign Minister Jean Paul Adam.

"We expressed satisfaction at the present level of bilateral cooperation in the defence and security areas, especially in the context of combating priacy in the Indian Ocean Region. Piracy in the region adversely impacts on us all," Patil said.

Hailing the visit of Patil, the second Presidential visit from India after 22 years as "historic", Michel said that "Seychelles has positioned itself as a rock of dependability for India in the Indian Ocean region. India can always count on Seychelles and I know that we can always count on India. We share a strategic partnership and also a natural partnership."

President Patil arrived here yesterday on the first leg of her two-nation visit to boost India`s friendly ties with the African country.

Possibly on her last foreign visit as President of India before she retires on July 25, Patil will spend two days in this country before heading to South Africa tomorrow for a week-long visit.

This will be the second presidential visit to Seychelles, the strategically located island in Indian Ocean, after that of President R Venkataraman way back in 1989.

India has assured Seychelles that it was determined to work together to ensure a secure environment and counter the Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.

"The Indian Ocean is a strong bond between us. We are committed to work together closely in order to ensure the safety and security of the Indian Ocean Region in the face of threats of piracy and terrorism," Patil had said yesterday.

India has provided defence equipment and gifted a naval patrol vessel "INS Tarmugli" in 2005. It also has Maritime and Naval advisors in this strategic island country.

Indian Navy is actively engaged in patrolling the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone against Somali pirate activities.

An Indian Naval Dornier aircraft is currently stationed here to assist Seychelles in the anti-piracy operations.

Most of the senior officers in the Seychelles People`s Defence Forces (SPDG) and Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) have attended various courses in Indian Defence establishments.

The Republic of Seychelles is an African country located in the mid-western part of the Indian Ocean. With a population of just 90,000 plus, it is a group of 116 islands of which about 15 are inhabited.


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