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India pledges major financial package for Seychelles

Victoria, April 30
Seeking to take its relations with Seychelles to new heights, India today announced a USD 75 million financial package for the country and agreed to train police personnel in the strategically located Indian Ocean archipelago, affected by piracy.

After her "very fruitful" talks with her Seychelles counterpart, James Michel, President Pratibha Patil said that India would extend USD 50 million Line of Credit and a grant of USD 25 million to this island republic.

The package is significant as compared to the earlier assistance, officials said.

The two MoUs includes one on police research under which police personnel of the island republic will receive training from India's Bureau of Police Research and Development. The second MoU was on cooperation in youth and sports affairs to facilitate greater people to people contact.

The MoUs were signed in the presence of President Patil and her counterpart Michel by Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot and Seychelles Foreign Minister Jean Paul Adam.

"We expressed satisfaction at the present level of bilateral cooperation in the defence and security areas, especially in the context of combating priacy in the Indian Ocean Region. Piracy in the region adversely impacts on us all," Patil said.

Hailing the visit of Patil, the second Presidential visit from India after 22 years as "historic", Michel said that "Seychelles has positioned itself as a rock of dependability for India in the Indian Ocean region. India can always count on Seychelles and I know that we can always count on India. We share a strategic partnership and also a natural partnership."

"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," Patil said, adding that the ties were "vibrant, wide-ranging, multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial".

A highlight of the visit was that India has decided to intensify cooperation with Seychelles in the areas of health sector, feasibility studies for monorail and in the construction of a dam on the Mahe island here.

A cluster of solar energy cells here is also being planned by India.

Seychelles President said that there are many economic opportunities for India including in financial services, tourism, oil exploration and renewable energy.

A major feature of the visit was Patil's address to the National Assembly here. She was the first President of any country to address the Assembly.

Seychelles President expressed satisfaction over the effectiveness of the Dornier aircraft given by India and said "we look forward to installation of a new radar system which will better protect our ocean".

Briefing reporters, Secretary (West) M Ganapathi said that an additional Dornier was also being provided. He said that Seychelles also has a Maritime Security Advisor from India.

Besides, Indian Naval ships go in for offshore patrolling in the area four times a year.

President Patil also thanked Seychelles for supporting India at various international foras including its backing for India's candidature in a reformed UN Security Council.

Patil also praised Seychelles for its "principled and consistent support" to India on the issue of terrorism. PTI

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