New Delhi: Amid increasing Chinese influence in Indian Ocean, Seychelles on Thursday asserted that the region "belongs" to countries sharing maritime boundaries and said it was "actively" considering participating in a security framework for the strategic area involving India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Visiting President James Alix Michel, who held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday on key issues including security, hailed India's role in curbing piracy and noted that the two countries have a "shared interest" in maritime security. Michel was delivering a lecture at the ICWA here.
While Michel delivered a brief lecture, his ministers for Foreign Affairs Joel Morgan and Finance, Trade and Blue Economy Jean-Paul Adam interacted with a select audience on a wide range of issues.
Underlining the element "collective human security" in the maritime space, Michel said it is important that India and Seychelles continue to strive for "ownership of our maritime security and safety".
"We cannot leave it to others to secure our maritime space. The need is more relevant than ever. Today we have with India an exemplary partnership in defence and security sectors. India's determined and proactive action in fight against piracy is highly commendable," Michel said.
Speaking on the island nation's ties with India, Morgan said, "With regards to safeguarding maritime domain, Seychelles is actively considering invitation by the Indian government to join the tripartite maritime security framework which encompasses India, Sri Lanka and Maldives."
Modi had visited Seychelles early this year in a bid to expand India's influence in the vital maritime space, which is also seen as the nerve centre of world trade.
Morgan also welcomed Modi's "doctrine on Indian Ocean" and five declared principles namely "defending one's territories deepening security cooperation with regional partners, building multinational cooperative security, sustainable development and extending cooperation to other major partners."
Responding to a query on China, Morgan said Seychelles is "close friends" with both the countries and respect them in terms of their international policies.
"... One thing that Seychelles does recognise is that Indian Ocean belongs to us. It belongs to the countries in the region. In terms of peace, security and stability these are questions we must look in terms of the presence of foreign forces, foreign naval forces, foreign countries in our region", and noted that not only China, European Union was also present there.