Maritime Security Current Affairs - 2019
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Seychelles President Danny Faure ahead of his state visit to India has said that India-Seychelles joint project to develop naval base at Assumption Island in his country will not move forward. He also mentioned that Seychelles will develop military facilities at the island on its own. This statement comes after growing political opposition in Seychelles to agreement that was signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at Assumption Island which would have given India strategic advantage in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
India was keen on developing the Assumption Island as naval base due to key strategic location in the western periphery of Indian Ocean and to expand its footprint in the region where China has been trying to enhance its military presence. For this, India had signed 20 years agreement in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to that Seychelles. It was meant to India’s first Naval Base project overseas and had acquired significance after China had acquired its first African naval base in Djibouti (near Horn of Africa) in November 2014. However, after opposition leaders in Seychelles came out openly against agreement with India, Seychelles President refused to place in Seychelles National Assembly (its parliament) since he didn’t have majority. Later in January 2018, India and Seychelles finalised an updated version of the original pact to accommodate lot of concerns of Seychelles side.
Assumption Island is a small island situated southwest of Seychelles main and largest island of Mahe. It is situated very close to Mozambique Channel from where much Indian Ocean maritime routes pass. Its location lends it strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel.
India and Cambodia have signed four agreements to boost bilateral cooperation between both countries. The agreements were signed after comprehensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cambodian counterpart Samdech Hun Sen in New Delhi.
Key Takeaways from comprehensive talks
Defence, security and counter-terrorism: Both leaders held talks to boost ties in key areas of defence, security and counter-terrorism and called for concerted global efforts to eliminate terrorism, including blocking terror financing and dismantling terrorist bases.
Enhance bilateral defence ties: They agreed to further enhance bilateral defence ties, including through exchanges of senior-level defence personnel and capacity building projects. They also discussed exploring ways to intensify development partnership and boost ties in key sectors, including trade and investment, energy conservation, agriculture, and tourism and culture.
Maritime Security: They also expressed keen interest in enhancing cooperation in maritime domain, including preservation of coastal and marine environment, anti-piracy cooperation, security of sea lanes of communication to maintain peace and ensure safety and security of navigation in Indo-Pacific Region. They also supported complete freedom of navigation and overflight and pacific resolution of maritime issues based on international law.
Agreements signed are
- Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP): It seeks to promote cultural exchange and strengthen the friendly relations between both countries.
- Credit Line Agreement: It was signed between India’s EXIM Bank Government of Cambodia for Line of Credit (LoC) to finance Stung Sva Hab Water Resource Development Project for US$ 36.92 million.
- Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters: It seeks to improve effectiveness of both countries in prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes through cooperation and legal assistance in criminal matters.
- MoU on Cooperation for Prevention of Human Trafficking: It seeks to increase bilateral cooperation on issues of prevention, rescue and repatriation related to human trafficking.
India-Cambodia bilateral relations are warm and cordial. The relations go back to 1st century AD when Hindu and Buddhist religious and cultural influences emanated out of India to various parts of Southeast Asia. Cambodians are predominantly Buddhist but retain strong influence of Hindu mythology, rituals and idolatry.