India and Seychelles signed a revised agreement that will allow the country to build military infrastructure on Assumption Island for the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Saturday signed the renegotiated agreement in Victoria, the capital of Seychelles – an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off East Africa.
“As two maritime neighbours, we have a stake in each other’s security and safety,” Jaishankar said in a statement. “India and Seychelles have drawn up a cooperation agenda that covers within its purview shared efforts in anti-piracy operations and enhanced EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone] surveillance and monitoring to prevent intrusions by potential economic offenders indulging in illegal fishing, poaching, drug and human trafficking.”
Seychelles President Danny Faure (pictured above) said the project was of utmost importance to the island nation, and it “attests to the kinship and affinity that exists between our two countries”, The Times of India reported.
However, Seychelles has told Delhi it has the right “suspend” the use of military facilities on Assumption Island if India goes to war, The Indian Express reported. The country’s other “international partners” can also use the facilities on Assumption Island.
“Seychelles can suspend the utilisation of the military facilities if India is at war because this is not a military base,” the Seychelles News Agency had earlier quoted Attorney-General Frank Ally as saying.
This provision has been incorporated into the revised pact, which was first announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in 2015. The deal had then faced trouble and Jishankar had to make an unannounced visit to Seychelles in October 2017 to resolve the differences.