NEW DELHI: India's assistance is "critical" to the Seychelles in the field of maritime security and in patrolling its large exclusive economic zone, Patrick Pillay, the Speaker of its National Assembly, said today.
Underlining the importance of defence cooperation between the two countries, Pillay said India's assistance to island country is "absolutely immeasurable".
He said the Seychelles has exclusive economic zone (EEZ) spread over nearly 1.3 million sq kms and there are reported cases of illegal fishing.
"So, you need surveillance. One of the big areas of cooperation with India is maritime surveillance and training (of the Seychellois armed forces). It is of enormous assistance," Pillay said.
The Seychelles, an archipelago of over 300 small islands in the Indian Ocean off east Africa, is a critical cog in the India's maritime security amid growing Chinese presence in the region.
Indian Coast Guard and Navy ships, while on surveillance, also undertake reconnaissance activities in Seychelles EEZ.
India has gifted patrolling ships and interceptor boats to the Seychelles in the past.
In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated eight Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems (CSRS) set up by India during visit to the nation.
The two sides also signed an MoU on hydrography following which INS Darshak visited Seychelles from November to December 2015 to conduct hydrographic survey of Victoria Port and adjoining areas.
Since 2001, the defence forces of India and Seychelles have been conducting bilateral exercises.
The Speaker of the Seychellois National Assembly said India has been a friend of Seychelles from beginning.
"The cooperation that has been with India has been absolutely immeasurable," he noted.