President of Seychelles Danny Faure landed in Ahmedabad on Friday as part a six-day visit, during which he is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the wide-ranging areas of cooperation between the two countries, including defence and security. The visit holds special importance as it comes days after the Seychelles Parliament blocked a joint project between the two countries to develop a naval base at the African nation’s Assumption Island.
At a press conference on June 4, Faure had said Seychelles will develop military facilities at Assumption Island on its own and that the project with India “will not move forward”. He also said the issue would not be discussed with the Indian leadership during his visit to New Delhi.
The Seychelles Parliament has been divided over a 2015 naval facility agreement with India. The proposed base was strategically important for New Delhi in the Indian Ocean Region.
Why the island matters
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 PM Modi’s visit to the 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 agenda in India
During the visit from June 22-27, Faure will first visit Ahmedabad in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, and Goa, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. He will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday, after which he is scheduled to visit the Rajghat to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.
Faure will meet President Ram Nath Kovind and hold delegation-level talks with PM Modi during his visit. He will call on Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and MEA Sushma Swaraj. He will also address the India-Seychelles Business Forum.
Faure will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising two cabinet ministers, four secretaries of state and other senior officials. The MEA statement added that a business delegation will also be accompanying the Seychelles President.
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, it said.
(With PTI inputs)