India and Mozambique to cooperate on maritime security, anti-piracy efforts


India and Mozambique have agreed to work together to improve maritime security in the Indian Ocean, following a high level meeting between Mozambican and Indian defence ministers. This follows a similar understanding between South Africa and Mozambique reached earlier this months.

The scope of the Memorandum of Understanding signed on Tuesday covers all the three armed services, envisaging cooperation in the field of military technical cooperation, logistic support and training.

The Indian Government announced the agreement following Mozambican minister of defence Filipe Jacinto Nyussi’s meeting in India with defence minister Shri AK Antony on Tuesday.
“Both sides had a fruitful discussion on various bilateral defence cooperation issues. A number of fresh areas for cooperation were identified to enhance and strengthen the existing bilateral relation between the two countries,” an Indian government statement said.

It also deals with joint activities including maritime patrols along the Mozambican coast, mutual training in military institutes, supply of defence equipment/services and establishment of partnership and transfer of knowhow and technology for assembling and repair of vehicles, aircraft and ships as well as rehabilitation of military infrastructure.

The issue of piracy was high on the agenda as it is a big concern for both countries, which have had numerous vessels hijacked by Somali pirates. Nyussi expressed gratitude towards the Indian Navy for rescuing pirated Mozambican ships. In March this year, the Indian Navy captured 61 pirates when they liberated the Mozambican fishing vessel Vega 5. Thirteen crew were rescued from the vessel, which was being used as a mother ship after being hijacked in late December.

The incident marked the Indian Navy’s third anti-piracy operation this year, following the capture of 28 Somali pirates in February and another 15 in January. Both groups also are to be prosecuted in Mumbai.

During his five-day visit, Nyussi also met Chief of Indian Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh and the Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshall NAK Browne. Nyussi also toured key defence installations including the Western Naval Command in Mumbai, National Defence Academy and Armed Forces Medical College in Pune besides the prestigious Army Research & Referral Hospital in New Delhi.

The Indian government said it has enjoyed close and friendly relations with Mozambique. In March, 2006 the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation. Subsequently, two meetings of the Joint Defence Working Group were held in 2008 and 2010.

At the beginning of the month, South African Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu and Nyussi signed a Memorandum of Understanding with regard to the combating of piracy and trans-border crime.
“The Republic of South Africa was asked by the Mozambican government to assist with information gathering, assessment and patrolling. SAS Mendi, one of the South African Navy’s frigates was then deployed to gather intelligence in this regard,” the military said in a statement. (The SAS Amatola has since replaced the Mendi.)
“Consequently the South African Navy presented an anti-piracy strategy to cabinet which was approved and the same strategy was presented to the Southern African Development Community Chief’s of Defence Forces who wholeheartedly supported it. As a matter of fact, the co-operation has been elevated to the level of SADC.”

Around a third of the world’s oil passes through the region around the Mozambique Channel, which also serves as the conduit for 98% of South Africa’s maritime trade.