The Indian government has donated a Dornier 228 aircraft to the Seychelles Coast Guard for use in maritime surveillance and patrol operations.
The aircraft was handed over to visiting Seychelles President Danny Faure during a ceremony on 26 June at Air Force Station Palam in Delhi. It was handed over by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, was quoted in an official statement as saying that the gifted aircraft, which was licence-built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), will “amplify our capacity to conduct maritime surveillance over our extensive Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million km²”.
The aircraft will join the first Do 228 handed over to the Seychelles in 2013. This has been assisting the Seychelles Coast Guard in rescue operations, air surveillance and securing its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Faure’s visit was preceded by the announcement of the cancellation of an agreement for the establishment of a strategic Indian Navy base on the island nation after the opposition-dominated parliament refused to ratify it.
During the aircraft presentation ceremony, Modi also announced that New Delhi has availed a $100 million credit facility for Seychelles to acquire more aircraft, patrol boats and weapons for the police and coast guard services.
“I feel pleasure in announcing a credit of $100 million for Seychelles defence. With this credit Seychelles will be able to buy defence equipment from India in order to build its maritime defence capabilities. India and Seychelles are committed to maintaining peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region,” Modi said.
He said despite the cancellation of the January 2018 agreement for the establishment of a joint-run navy base on Assumption Island, India will continue to help Seychelles strengthen its defence capabilities, build maritime infrastructure and train its police and defence forces.
“On the issue of (our plan to establish) the naval facility on Assumption Island, we are ready to work together on the basis of consideration for each other’s interest,” Modi said.
Faure, who had earlier on ruled out further talks on the proposed joint naval facility, said the issue was discussed. He said the two countries will remain engaged on the issue, but made no indications on whether the deal could be resuscitated.
“In the context of maritime security, (the establishment of a navy base on) Assumption Island was discussed. We are equally engaged and we will continue to work together, bearing each other’s interests in mind.
“We have underscored our commitment to remain at the heart of joint initiatives and collective efforts to stimulate and facilitate cooperation in fields representing priorities on the sub-regional, regional and continental agendas,” Faure said.
The two leaders signed six agreements for further cooperation in the areas of maritime and cyber security, infrastructure development and diplomacy. India extended a separate line of credit to finance the construction of a new police headquarters, government house and office for the Attorney-General in Seychelles.