NEW DELHI: India today announced a USD 500 million line of credit to Mauritius as the two countries decided to firm up cooperation in the field of maritime security in the Indian Ocean region.
The two sides signed a maritime security agreement after extensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth.
In a statement, Modi said he and Jugnauth agreed that effective management of conventional and non-conventional threats in the Indian Ocean is essential to pursue economic opportunities and provide security to the people of both the countries.
"We have to keep up our vigil against piracy that impacts trade and tourism, trafficking of drugs and humans, illegal fishing, and other forms of illegal exploitation of marine resources," the prime minister said.
The bilateral maritime accord will strengthen cooperation and capacities, he said, noting that the two sides also agreed to strengthen their wide-ranging cooperation in hydrography for a secure and peaceful maritime domain.
On his part, Jugnauth said the two countries need to ensure that the sea lanes of communications are safe and secure and regular patrolling is conducted to combat illegal activities such as piracy, illegal fishing in the territorial waters and drug trafficking.
A decision to extend the operational life of Coast Guard ship Guardian, that was given by India to Mauritius under a grant assistance programme, was also taken.
During his visit to Mauritius in March 2015, Modi had commissioned offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Barracuda, built and financed by India, into the Mauritian Coast Guard.
Holding that Mauritius has "strong" defence and security ties with India, the visiting prime minister said the acquisition of such OPVs and fast interceptor boats from India has enhanced the operational capacities of its police and coast guard.
Besides the maritime pact, three other agreements were also signed after talks between the two leaders. They were for setting up of a civil services college in Mauritius, one on cooperation in ocean research and the US dollar Credit Line Agreement between the SBM Mauritius Infrastructure Development Company and Export-Import Bank of India.
Modi said the agreement on the line of credit to Mauritius was a good example of the strong and continuing commitment to the development of that country.
The two sides also decided to ramp up cooperation in a number of areas including trade and investment.
"India is proud to participate actively in the ongoing development activities in Mauritius," Modi said, adding that emphasis was also given on cooperation in skill development during the talks.
Reaffirming Mauritius' "unwavering" support to India for UN Security Council membership, Jugnauth also welcomed New Delhi's support to the island nation's claim over the Chagos archipelago.
Both the UK and Mauritius have competing claims over the archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
Jugnauth also discussed with Modi the issue of a comprehensive economic cooperation and partnership agreement (CECPA) on which discussions have been held in the past.
He expressed satisfaction over the resumption of the negotiations on the CECPA issue last year, saying Mauritius looked forward to its conclusion by the end of this year.
"The CEPCA will play a major role in the economic dynamics between our two countries, by enhancing trade and enabling collaboration with Indian entities," he said.
Referring to the India-funded Metro Express Project from Curepipe to Port Louis, Jugnauth said it will play a pivotal role in the economic development of the island nation. The metro network will have 19 stations.
Mauritius also informed India about its ratification of the International Solar Alliance, a project involving 120 countries. It was initiated by Modi and former French president Francois Hollande.