PORT LOUIS: Stepping up defence ties with Mauritius, India on Saturday agreed to provide an off-shore patrol vessel (OPV) to the island nation that would help it improve surveillance in surrounding pirates-infested high-seas.
A Memorandum of Understanding to deliver the OPV was signed during a meeting External Affairs Minister, Mr S M Krishna, on a two-day visit here, had with Mauritius Prime Minister, Mr Navinchandra Ramgoolam.
Besides the OPV, India is also building a Coastal Surveillance Radar System for the volcanic island nation, installation of which is expected to commence in September. The 58-million-dollar OPV will help Mauritius police its vast extended economic zone which is spread across an area of 1.9 million sq km. India has agreed to extend US$ 10 million grant in aid for the OPV while the balance amount will be met through a line of credit extended to the nation. “We have a very special relationship with India and this will continue. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on this offshore patrol vessel,” Mr Ramgoolam told reporters after a 30-minute meeting with Mr Krishna. He said this was discussed during his official visit to India and the MoU was needed to better equip the country against threats of piracy and terrorism.
“In the light of what is happening in our region, we should be better equipped and that is why we have signed the MoU today. In our region, we have new elements like piracy and also terrorism. “We expect full cooperation from India and I am glad we are receiving full cooperation from India,” he said. He also underlined the significance of the string of eight radars that India is scheduled to install in Mauritius and its neighbouring island of Agalega. “We can pick up all the movement that happens in the region we will be able to patrol the area better.
“We have the national coastguard and India helps us in this tremendously but it is not good enough to be able to control such an area,” he said indicating that the radar system would help fill in the gaps in surveillance. Mr Krishna said India looked forward to further strengthening the already “good, cordial and friendly” relations with Mauritius.
“We do realise how crucial and critical it is for India to have security related relationship with Mauritius. There is total identity of thinking with the Prime Minister of Mauritius,” he said.
“The Prime Minister mentioned about piracy, which is bothering us also so I think a joint effort will have to be made in order to prevent this so that peace and tranquility in this part of the Indian Ocean is maintained,” Mr Krishna said. Mr Krishna also called on Mauritius President Mr Anerood Jugnauth and held discussions with Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and Minister for Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Rashid Beebeejaun. Mr Krishna will hold bilateral talks on a range of issues with his Mauritius counterpart, Mr Arvin Boolell late in the evening. The Minister leaves for an official visit to Mozambique on Sunday.