30-04-2012 : Seychelles
I am, indeed, very happy to be in Seychelles. My delegation and I are deeply touched by the warmth of the reception, and the generous hospitality accorded to us by the Government and the people of Seychelles. I bring greetings and good wishes from the people of India to the friendly people of Seychelles.
This is my first visit to Seychelles, a country of amazing natural beauty. I feel privileged to be here at the invitation of President James Alix Michel whose State visit to India in June 2010 was path breaking in our bilateral relations. My visit to Seychelles is to re-emphasize the strong friendship that exists between our two countries, which share the Indian Ocean and along with it, cultural affinities and ties of history. Today, this relationship is vibrant, wide-ranging, multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial. My visit to Seychelles reaffirms our common commitment to take our relations to new heights.
My meeting with His Excellency President James Alix Michel was very fruitful. I have also had a useful meeting with His Excellency the Vice President and the Cabinet Ministers of Seychelles. We have noted with satisfaction that India and Seychelles have, over the past few decades, developed a strong and mutually beneficial cooperation at both bilateral and regional levels. Given the progress in the relationship, both sides expressed the desire to work together towards elevating the bilateral relations to a strategic partnership for mutual benefit.
While expressing satisfaction over the present state of our economic-commercial relations, we agreed that considerable opportunities still exist for further expansion, particularly in the areas of trade and economic cooperation. I am happy to state that a business delegation has joined me from India to explore business opportunities in Seychelles. My participation in the Business Forum Meet last evening in Seychelles was very encouraging. I am confident that this interaction will further push bilateral relations in the economic and commercial fields.
We have agreed to further enhance exchanges in the fields of higher education, manpower development, health, Information and Communications Technology, Science and Technology, hydrographic surveys, monorail, tourism, hospitality and culture. In fact, the signing of the MOU on Co-operation in the field of Youth Affairs and Sports, will go a long way in enhancing people-to-people exchanges also. India would always be a trusted development partner of Seychelles. In tune with this commitment, I was happy to inform President Michel of India's financial package of a Line of Credit of US $ 50 million and a grant of US $ 25 million for Seychelles.
We expressed satisfaction at the present level of bilateral cooperation in the defence and security areas, especially in the context of combating piracy in the Indian Ocean region. Piracy in the region adversely impacts on us all. India reiterated its commitment to provide assistance to Seychelles in the defence sector, including training and deputation of experts. We have seen the signing today of an MOU on co-operation on training of police personnel.
I express my gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Seychelles for its valued support on regional and global issues of crucial importance to India. Seychelles has consistently supported India's candidature for a permanent membership in an expanded United Nations Security Council. The re-entry of Seychelles as a member of the IOR-ARC will further make the organization more representative and I hope Seychelles will benefit from it.
I am privileged to have been given the opportunity to address the Special Session of the National Assembly of Seychelles. It will be soon after this, and I am looking forward to it. India is keen to enhance parliamentary exchanges between our two countries. I am happy that apart from a Minister, two Members of Parliament are also with me to be part of this historic moment.
I have invited President James Alix Michel to visit India, which he has accepted. The visit will take place on mutually convenient dates.