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    India Plans Grand Welcome to Seychelles President Despite Spat Over Naval Base

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    Indian opposition parties have been targeting the Narendra Modi government over its foreign policy failure in the strategically crucial Indian Ocean Region after Seychelles unilaterally called off a deal regarding the establishment of an Indian naval base on Assumption Island.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) – The Indian government has planned a grand welcome for President of Seychelles Danny Faure during his five-day visit starting June 24. 

    The Narendra Modi government will host Danny Faure across four cities — Panaji, Ahmedabad, Dehradun and New Delhi — during his first ever state visit to India. 

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    During his visit to Ahmedabad, President Faure will interact with management students at the Indian Institute of Management; while in Dehradun, he will discuss agricultural technology with Indian officials that can be part of an agreement between the two nations.

    The Narendra Modi government is also expected to announce infrastructure development projects for the island nation.

    The visit is happening against the backdrop of an announcement made on June 4 by President Faure that the Assumption Island project with India will not move forward.

    The objective of the agreement was to assist Seychelles to secure its vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including that near the Mozambique Channel, located over a thousand kilometers from the main island of Mahé. As per the terms of the agreement, the facilities on Assumption Island were to be funded by India, owned by Seychelles and jointly managed by both sides. 

    "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," the president of Seychelles had said in a press conference.

    The Indian government has come under immense criticism following the calling off of the project by Seychelles.

    However, sources told Sputnik that the Indian government is yet to receive any formal communication from the Seychelles government regarding the cancellation of the agreement on the development, management, operation and maintenance of facilities on Assumption Island.

     "India has already conveyed to the Seychelles government that New Delhi is not in a hurry and they can take time to make consensus with the opposition," a source told Sputnik.

    Many believe that it is China that orchestrated the plan to scuttle the project, which was primarily mooted by Beijing in 2011. However, sources told Sputnik that New Delhi has not yet sniffed any sign that the ongoing problem is due to the meddling of any other foreign powers, but it is more due to domestic politicking against the backdrop of the upcoming presidential election in Seychelles, scheduled for later this year.

     "I do not see it as a failure of Indian diplomacy. Although New Delhi clearly lacks the politico-diplomatic-economic coercive power that the Chinese have amply demonstrated in acquiring such bases overseas; or thwarting India's proposals, the exercise of such power is not sustainable in the longer run," Dr. Gurpreet S. Khurana — executive director of the National Maritime Foundation in New Delhi, India and a captain in the Indian Navy told Sputnik.

    While the forthcoming bilateral talks may be too early to witness any breakthrough, analysts like Captain Khurana are optimistic that sooner, rather than later, the political leadership in Port Victoria will eventually be able to convince all stakeholders in Seychelles that the Indian offer is in their national interest.

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    "While India may be doing whatever it possibly can to convince the political leadership of Seychelles of the merits of the naval facility on Assumption Island, it always takes 'two to tango'. Even though the case enjoys a bipartisan political support in the island state, the apex leadership of Seychelles has not yet been able to convince its own the broader constituency and the activists of the imperative of comprehensive maritime security for the island nation and the key role that India can play," Khurana added.

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    bilateral cooperation, foreign policy, naval base, politics, Indian Foreign Ministry, Narendra Modi, Seychelles, India, China, Indian Ocean
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