US surveillance aid welcomed by President Michel


15-May-2009

Mr White (left) during his meeting with President Michel yesterday at State House

The President has welcomed the move by the US – through its embassy in Mauritius and after requests from the Seychelles government – to increase maritime surveillance in the Indian Ocean as part of a coordinated effort to combat piracy.

“It’s clear that Seychelles has become a strategic location for maritime security.  We already have Indian and European support in our efforts to protect our exclusive economic zone, and now with the American initiative we are well on the way to setting up a maritime fortress around the Seychelles islands,” said Mr Michel.

He was speaking after holding talks with the US deputy chief of mission in Mauritius, Craig White.
In recent weeks Mr Michel has worked towards developing military cooperation with partners in the region, with the aim of creating a surveillance hub for international forces in Seychelles.

This is aimed primarily at piracy but also has extensive implications for other growing maritime security concerns.
“The piracy problem has transformed into an opportunity for us to strengthen maritime surveillance in the western Indian Ocean, and I am confident that this will deter illegal fishing and drug trafficking, as well as tackle the Somali piracy activities,” said Mr Michel.

He said the collaboration between the US forces and the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces is highly reassuring and will lead to closer ties between the two countries.

Mr White said the US is looking for possible ways to deepen security relations and cooperation between the two countries.
 “It is an important thing to be able to move quickly from an initial look to bringing in a team here and doing some assessment,” he said.

“The US already has a team of technical experts here who will be looking at the technical aspects of security cooperation.”
Mr White added that he is confident the two countries are moving forward in a very positive direction towards boosting security ties.

The President has asked several other foreign countries for their support in combating piracy, most notably India, France, the UK and Spain.

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