India to host Seychelles president amid China worryJanuary 28th, 2012 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) Amid China’s plan to set up a supply and refuelling facility in the picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago nation, India will host Seychelles President James Alix Michel next week, for talks which will focus on expanding defence and anti-piracy cooperation.
Michel will come here for the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, beginning Feb 2, which brings together a host of global leaders to discuss ways to protect the global commons.
Finland President Finnish President Tarja Halonen and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are among those who will speak at the conference.
Michel is also expected to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a wide range of bilateral and strategic issues. Besides developmental assistance, expanding anti-piracy and defence cooperation will figure prominently in the discussions.
Late last year, Seychelles offered to China its harbour for use to refuel and stocking of Chinese warships that are in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations. This triggered some worries in New Delhi, but Beijing later clarified that it will not be a military base, but just a refuelling and supply facility.
India, however, continues to keep a “watch” on how Beijing goes about using this arrangement in this strategically-important island nation.
Defence cooperation between India and Seychelles has been growing.
Last year, the Indian Navy deployed a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft in the Seychelles for carrying out anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean Region. The aircraft, stationed at Seychelles’ capital Victoria, would be operated by Navy crew on anti-piracy patrol duties in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Vice President Hamid Ansari met Michel on the sidelines of the biennial Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia, in October last year and discussed a host of bilateral issues.
Seychelles was one of the nations that joined the ambitious Pan African e-Network Project in its first phase, inaugurated in February 2009. The project seeks to bridge the digital divide in the 54-nation continent and bring tele-medicine and tele-education to Africans.
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