India to enhance bilateral ties with Seychelles
India has vowed to further enhance its strategic partnership with Seychelles in the post-COVID era as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held high-level talks with the country's top leadership in Victoria during his two-day visit to the key Indian Ocean nation. Jaishankar, who arrived from the United Arab Emirates, also visited Bahrain as part of this three-nation tour. During his visit, he called on Seychelles' newly-elected Indian-origin President Wavel Ramkalawan and congratulated him on his recent electoral victory.
- Jaishankar and Ramkalawan discussed the historical neighbourly relationship strengthened by shared belief in values of democracy and rule of law.
- India's resolve to further enhance the India-Seychelles strategic partnership in the post-COVID era, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
- The minister also "spoke of the centrality of Seychelles to India's vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region) that characterised India's policy towards the Indian Ocean Region. As a neighbour across waters, Seychelles was very much a part of the Neighbourhood First policy as well.
- The discussions underscored the need to further expand and deepen bilateral engagement, and to coordinate and cooperate to counter the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- They stressed the need to strengthen shared efforts to combat drug trafficking, IUU (Illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing, piracy and climate change while protecting the ocean ecosystem.
- Jaishankar's visit assumes significance as India is developing infrastructure in the country to expand its footprint in the strategically-key region in the Indian Ocean where China has been trying to enhance its military presence.
- Indian-origin President Ramkalawan won the presidential election on 25 October 2020 this year, the first such victory for an Opposition candidate since Independence.
- Born in Mahe, the principal island of Seychelles, Ramkalawan was ordained as a priest in 1985 following theological studies at St Paul's Theological College in Mauritius, and thereafter at Birmingham University. His grandfather was from Bihar.
- In 2015, India unveiled it's strategic vision for the Indian Ocean i.e. Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
- It is an increasing recognition of the increasing importance of maritime security, maritime commons and cooperation.
- Through SAGAR, India seeks to deepen economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours and assist in building their maritime security capabilities.
- For this, India would cooperate on the exchange of information, coastal surveillance, building of infrastructure and strengthening their capabilities.