Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Seychelles today on the first leg of his five-day visit to three key Indian Ocean countries that also includes Mauritius and Sri Lanka, asserting that strong relations with them was “vital” for India’s security and progress.
Seeking to ramp up India’s influence along a strategic maritime route, Modi said it attaches “paramount importance” to strengthening relations with countries in the Indian Ocean region.
Modi, who will be the first Indian Prime Minister to travel to Seychelles in 33 years and to Sri Lanka in 28 years, is expected to tap into the “substantive” goodwill and historical linkages between India and the three Indian Ocean economies which offer new possibilities of cooperation in defence and economic spheres.
As his visit to the three island countries comes against the backdrop of China’s increasing focus on the Indian Ocean region, Modi is expected to renew its commitment to the ocean economies where India envisages its role as a net security provider.
“My visit to the three Indian Ocean Island countries reflects our foreign policy priorities in India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood. India attaches paramount importance to strengthening relations with this region, which is vital for India’s security and progress,” he said in a pre-departure statement.
The Prime Minister also said that India had strong, multifaceted and important relationship with each of the three countries he is visiting, observing,”they all occupy a very important place in our foreign policy.”
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar are accompanying the Prime Minister.