India extends $100 million line of credit to Mauritius

NEW DELHI : India has extended a $100-million line of credit (LoC) to Mauritius for defence capacity building, as part of its Indian Ocean Region outreach that focuses on maritime security and developing the ‘blue economy’.Under the agreement announced on Monday by President Ramnath Kovind , who is on a visit to the island nation, Mauritius will use the funds to finance purchase of a multi-purpose offshore patrol vessel from India. The agreement includes an additional grant component of $5 million.This comes two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a joint vision document with France for enhancing stability in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) amid China's increasing presence in the area.Mauritius is one of India’s closest partners in the IOR and also has close links with France. It will be a key pillar in Indo-French partnership in IOR, officials said.“India and Mauritius share common security concerns in the Indian Ocean Region. India has assisted Mauritius in the past by supplying patrol vessels,” President Kovind said after announcing the credit line. “Taking this cooperation further, I am happy to announce today that India will supply a multi-purpose offshore patrol vessel to Mauritius under a line of credit.”Earlier, at a banquet on Sunday night, Kovind had said, “Mauritius is a gateway to the Indian Ocean Region and to Africa. It can serve as a hub for Indian companies looking to access the African mainland. As the proverbial ‘Star and Key’ of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has a natural convergence of interests with India. Our cooperation in maritime security and counter-terrorism has been exemplary.”India shares a robust maritime security partnership with Mauritius. This Indian Ocean country has no military establishment per se. All its security forces – air, sea and land – are under the administrative control of the Mauritius National Police Force (MPF). A rather unknown facet of India-Mauritius defence cooperation is the fact that several elements of the Mauritian security establishment are commanded by Indian military officers on attachment to the MPF.India has been a critical supporter of the Mauritian National Coast Guard from its inception and has been supplying patrol vessels to the nation for the last few decades. In 2015 during Modi’s visit, India had handed over the MCGS Barracuda, a patrol vessel, and also extended a $500-million LoC for development or security projects.During that visit, India and Mauritius had announced a new security cooperation agreement as part of Delhi’s IOR outreach. Mauritius also handed over to India responsibility to build transport infrastructure (sea and air links) for the Agalega Islands.Similarly, India is also working with Seychelles with an eye on safeguarding stability in the IOR. On Wednesday, Kovind will be in Madagascar, marking the first visit by an Indian president. Maritime domain cooperation will top the agenda.

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