New bounce in India-Sri ties: 4 pacts, $318 million for railways, currency swap

Imparting a renewed momentum to their bilateral ties, India and Sri Lanka have signed four agreements in areas of visa, customs, youth development and culture during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the island country.
Mr Modi also pledged support for making Trincomalee into a petroleum hub and announced that New Delhi will provide a fresh Line of Credit of up to $ 318 million for the development of the railways sector in Lanka. India also agreed to a ‘Currency Swap Agreement’ of $1.5 billion to help keep the Sri Lankan economy stable.
Mr Modi held wide-ranging talks with Sri Lankan President MaithripalaSirisena in Colombo on March 13 that saw the two leaders charting a roadmap for galvanising their multifaceted ties. The four pacts, signed after the talks, included providing facility of travelling without visa to diplomats, cooperation in customs, youth development, and for establishing a Rabindranath Tagore museum.
The India-Sri Lanka relations had languished during the last few years of the MahindaRajapaksa presidency due to his overtly pro-China policies. Mr Sirisena underlined his intention known of building robust relations with New Delhi by making India his first foreign visit within weeks of taking charge as the president of the island nation.

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India’s game-changing move: $500 million for Mauritius

In a game-changing move that provides fresh ballast to New Delhi’s Indian Ocean maritime diplomacy, India has unveiled $500 million as concessional Line of Credit to Mauritius for a host of infrastructure projects as the two countries signed five agreements, including a key pact on ocean economy.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Mauritian counterpart Anerood Jugnauth on March 11 during the second leg of his three-nation visit.

“I consider our security cooperation to be a cornerstone of our strategic partnership. We intend to quickly build the petroleum storage and bunkering facility in Mauritius,” Mr Modi said after the talks.

Mauritius looms large in New Delhi’s enhanced Indian Ocean diplomacy matrix. Mauritius’ then Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam was the only non-SAARC leader to be invited for the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Modi in May 2014.

Mr Modi has bene honoured by being invited as the chief Guest at the National Day celebrations of Mauritius on March 12, a historic day that also marks the launch of the salt satyagraha by Mahatma Gandhi 85 years ago. In the morning, he has extended his wishes to the citizens of Mauritius.

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Indian Ocean Diplomacy: Seychelles-India Connect

Think of Seychelles, and India always looms large in this enchanting archipelago country better known for beauty pageants, honeymooners and luxury holidays. Trade, Training, Technology, Temples and yes, Tata buses and tortoises… These are multiple strands that form the exquisite mosaic of contemporary relations between India and Seychelles, the 115-island archipelago country of haunting beauty. Fittingly, Seychelles forms the first destination of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-nation voyage (March 10-14) to littoral states of the Indian Ocean, which also includes Mauritius and Sri Lanka. It’s an epic diplomatic odyssey as this is the first time an Indian prime minister will be travelling to three littoral countries and underlines the growing salience of the Indian Ocean in India’s diplomatic-strategic matrix and calculations. Prime Minister’s Modi trip will underscore Seychelles’ unique place in this configuration.

There have been many presidential visits from India to this African littoral nation, the last one being President Pratibha Patil’s trip to Seychelles in 2012, but this will be the first prime ministerial visit to this strategically located country after a gap of more than three decades. Mrs Indira Gandhi was the last Indian Prime Minister to visit Victoria in 1981.

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