India, Seychelles island deal goes adrift
June 17, 2018  08:37
India's outreach to the Indian Ocean Region is now in 'troubled waters'. After the massive low in relations with Maldives, India is facing problems with Seychelles on the naval base project at the Assumption Island in Seychelles.

President Danny Faure, ahead of his visit to India, in a press conference two weeks ago said the joint project with New Delhi to develop a naval base at Assumption Island in his country would "not move forward".

Faure, who according to sources will be in New Delhi for a bilateral visit on June 25-26, said the issue of a military base on Assumption island that would also be used by India "will not be discussed with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

"In next year's budget, we will put funds for us to build a coastguard facility on Assumption ourselves. It is important for us to ensure that we have a military post in this area," he said.

Since Seychelles and India signed an agreement earlier this year to build military facilities on the remote island of Assumption, the project quickly became controversial, with the government supporting the plan but opposition members in the National Assembly and many private citizens against it.

The external affairs ministry is yet to issue a formal comment on the matter.

The deal for development of the naval base in Assumption island was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit in 2015 but the government in Victoria failed to get it ratified by its parliament. An updated version of the original pact was finalised by the two sides earlier this year. However, opposition leaders in Seychelles launched protests against a foreign power being involved in such a strategically sensitive project.
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