India to host Seychelles president

India will host Seychelles president Danny Faure in June to give a fillip to the efforts to remove hurdles for ratification of a deal New Delhi struck with the Indian Ocean archipelago to build military facilities in one of its islands.

Faure will visit New Delhi from June 25 to 26 on an invitation by President Ram Nath Kovind.

He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources said in New Delhi.

The visit of president of Seychelles is likely to give New Delhi and Victoria an opportunity to discuss ways to remove the hurdles for ratification of the agreement to build military facilities on Assomption Island of the archipelago.

The opposition in Seychelles of late refused to help ratify the agreement in the National Assembly of the island nation.

India and Seychelles had inked the original "Agreement for Development, Management, Operation and Maintenance of Facilities on Assomption Island" during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Victoria in March 2015.

Modi and then Seychelles president James Michel had witnessed the signing of the agreement.

Michel's government however did not send it to the National Assembly (Parliament) of Seychelles for ratification.

After Danny Faure succeeded Michel, Victoria conveyed to New Delhi that the agreement had required revision to give it "legal backing" in Seychelles. A revised agreement was signed on January 27.

The opposition in Seychelles' National Assembly however declined to help ratify the revised agreement too.

New Delhi suspects that China might have played a role in blocking of the ratification of the agreement.

The agreement would help India acquire a strategic asset on the Eastern African and South Asian sea lanes.

"It is a joint project that India will be executing at the specific request of the government of Seychelles. The objective is to assist Seychelles secure its vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) including near the Mozambique Channel, located over a thousand kilometre from the main island of Mah," V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, informed the Lok Sabha recently.

He said that the agreement covered within its purview our shared efforts in anti-piracy operations, and enhanced EEZ surveillance to prevent intrusions by potential economic offenders including those indulging in illegal fishing, poaching, drug and human trafficking.

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