India signs anti-piracy pacts with the Seychelles


India has signed several pacts with the Seychelles to counter piracy in the Indian Ocean.

India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Seychelles counterpart Jean-Paul Adam held wide-ranging discussions on international, regional and bilateral issues and took stock of the current status of the ties between the countries.

IANS reports that countering piracy was one of the main issues raised during the talks yesterday.
“During the talks, the Indian side reiterated its commitment to continue its support to Seychelles for its security, development, and in its capacity building efforts,” the external affairs ministry said after the talks.
“Both sides emphasised the need to continue joint surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Seychelles and anti-piracy surveillance to ensure safety of the Indian Ocean region,” said the ministry.

The three agreements that were signed covered the supply of a coastal surveillance radar system worth US$10 million (140 million rupees) and Dornier surveillance aircraft.

India and the Seychelles also discussed the issues of trade and investment, particularly in the hydrocarbon and fisheries sectors.

The visit of Syechelles foreign minister comes less than a fortnight after President James Alix Michel visited Delhi for the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. During that visit, the two sides focused on security issues, piracy and ways to expand developmental cooperation between the two countries, IANS reports.

Defence ties between India and the Seychelles have been strengthened recently, especially as India combats piracy in the Indian Ocean. India has donated a fast attack vessel to the Seychelles and in February last year deployed a Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft to Victoria, the nation’s capital.

In 2010 India promised to give the Seychelles its own Dornier patrol aircraft as well as two HAL Chetak light helicopters. The Dornier, sent to the island early in 2011 for 15 months, was intended as a stopgap until HAL hands over a new aircraft to the government.
“The Indian Ocean links us all and is critical for our economic interests. We must cooperate to ensure peace and stability in this region,” India’s defence minister A K Antony said last year.

For the past three years India has been sending a warship and an aircraft to patrol around the Maldives as Somali pirates become more active in the region.

India has also provided anti-piracy support to other island nations in the region, including the Maldives and Mauritius.

China, which sends warships to patrol for pirates in the Gulf of Aden region, has also expressed interest in the Seychelles with regard to pirate activity. Last year the Seychelles told China that it could use its harbour to refuel and restock its warships. Beijing said it would not establish a military base in the island nation but only a refuelling and resupply facility. China in 2011 donated two Y-12 aircraft to the Seychelles and has trained Seychelles soldiers in China.