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Seychelles president coming to India, piracy tops agenda

New Delhi, June 1 (Calcutta Tube) India and Seychelles are set to expand their security and anti-piracy cooperation when the leaders of the two countries hold talks here Wednesday.

Seychelles President James Alix Michel arrives here on a three-day visit Tuesday night. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday on a wide range of bilateral issues, including expanding collaboration in anti-piracy operations.

Some agreements are expected to be signed, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told reporters here.

India is also in the process of setting up an IT centre, costing around $1 million, in the strategically situated country east of the African mainland, he said.

Security and defence collaboration will be a key focus area of discussions as Seychelles, an archipelago nation of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, faces the persistent threat of piracy that has adversely affected its tourism-centric economy.

India has gifted Coast Guard vessels and has deputed experts to help Seychelles counter the threat of piracy, Gurjit Singh, joint secretary (East and South Africa), told reporters here.

The increasing incidents of attacks by Somali pirates on commercial ships, cruise liners and private boats has hit the Seychelles economy hard, costing it around 8 billion euros a year.

India has been regularly sending warships to the Seychelles, an archipelago with a population of just 84,000 people, for surveillance, the last being INS Savitri which had also made calls to Mauritius and the Maldives.

Most of the senior officers of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces and Seychelles Coast Guard have been trained by India. There are also several Indian defence officials from the army and navy stationed as advisors in the Seychelles.

India is involved in a slew of initiatives, including a school library project and a technology development centre for small and medium enterprises that are aimed at capacity building and human resource development.

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