New Delhi : India signed a significant military agreement with Seychelles, an archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean. This agreement states that India will set up military infrastructural facilities for Seychelles on Assumption Island, and also have access to use them. Last year China had erected a military base on Djibouti Island in the Indian Ocean region, following which China had also initiated activities to increase its influence in Seychelles. This acted as warning bell to India. In view of the above, the agreement signed with Seychelles has major significance.
Indian Secretary of Foreign Affairs S. Jaishankar is currently on a tour in Seychelles. The agreement regarding Assumption Island was signed after an important meeting on Saturday at “Victoria”, the capital of Seychelles, by S. Jaishankar and Danny Faure, the Foreign Secretary of Seychelles. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Seychelles in 2015. Several important agreements were signed at that time. The agreement to set up military installations on Assumption Island was also among these agreements; however it had not been able to move forward.
The opposition leaders in Seychelles had raised certain objections against this agreement. Therefore there were some difficulties in getting this agreement passed in their Parliament. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar had made an unannounced visit to Seychelles last October, to resolve these road blocks surrounding this important military agreement. This visit by the Foreign Secretary proved to be successful. The concerns felt by the opposition leaders were taken care through an amended agreement, thus clearing its path for implementation.
As per the new agreement, India will set up military infrastructural facilities on Assumption Island. This will also include developing a pier for combative ships as well as a landing strip for fighter planes. Besides these, several facilities for the Coast Guards of Seychelles will also be set up. India will also be able to use these infrastructural facilities as it “forward base”. However, a condition in the agreement states that India would not be able to use these facilities on Assumption Island as its military base, during wartime.
Assumption Island is to the north of Madagascar, an African nation, and its location is strategic in terms of keeping an eye on the activities in a large region of the Indian Ocean. It is said that this route is commonly used for smuggling drugs into Asia as well as for piracy and several other illegal trades.
It is important to note that China who is trying to gain an upper hand within the natural circle of influence of India, had also initiated activities in Seychelles. It was heard that China was also trying to erect military bases in Seychelles after doing the same in Djibouti Islands. Several military officials of China had paid visits to Seychelles over a short period of time. The Vice Military Chief of China Wang Guanzhong had also visited Seychelles. In view of this, the moving forward of this agreement between India and Seychelles proves to be highly significant. By gaining access to Assumption Island, India can also watch the movements of Chinese naval forces in this region. Thus, this agreement between India and Seychelles comes as a big blow to China.
President of Seychelles Danny Faure said that this agreement with India is a very significant one which stands evidence to the close ties developed between the two nations.