In a major setback to India’s strategy to counter increasing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles President Danny Faure has refused to move forward a joint project with New Delhi to develop a naval base at Assumption Island in his country.
Seychelles’ move to back out of a joint military base at Assumption Island came days ahead of President Faure’s state visit to India on June 26.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in 2015, India and Seychelles had signed a pact to develop a naval base at Assumption Island which would have given India a strategic advantage over China in the Indian Ocean Region.
The growing political opposition and environmental concerns are said to be the reason behind the Seychelles government’s decision to reject India’s proposal.
At a press conference on June 4, Faure had said Seychelles would develop military facilities at the island on its own and that the project with India “will not move forward”.
“In next year’s budget, we will put funds for us to build a coastguard facility on the Assumption ourselves. It is important for us to ensure that we have a military post in this area,” Seychelles News Agency quoted Faure as saying.
The Seychelles president had also said that the issue of the military base at Assumption Island would not be discussed during his India visit.
The Ministry of External Affairs has not yet commented on the issue.
(With Inputs from PTI)