Victoria, March 11: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here in the Seychelles' capital late tonight on the first leg of his three-nation tour that will also take him to Mauritius and Sri Lanka, observing that strong relations with Indian Ocean island countries were "vital" for India's security and progress.
Modi flew in to the Seychelles' capital by a special Air India plane after nearly six-hour flight. Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to travel to Seychelles in 33 years, said his visit to the three Indian Ocean island countries "reflects our foreign policy priorities in India's immediate and extended neighbourhood".
"India's relationship with Seychelles has been built on the foundation of mutual trust and shared values. I am keenly looking forward to my meeting with President James Michel, a great friend of India," he had said in a pre-departure statement.
Modi is accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. After Seychelles, the Prime Minister would visit Mauritius on March 11-12.
He will undertake his visit to Lanka on March 13-14. Modi said that India "attaches paramount importance to strengthening relations with this region, which is vital for India's security and progress".
Modi will undertake his visit to Lanka on March 13-14
As his visit to the three island countries comes against the backdrop of China's increasing focus on the Indian Ocean region, Modi is expected to renew the country's commitment to the ocean economies where India envisages its role as a net security provider.
Modi, who will also be the first Indian Prime Minister to travel to Sri Lanka in 28 years, is expected to tap into the "substantive" goodwill and historical linkages between India and the three Indian Ocean economies which offer new possibilities of cooperation in defence and economic spheres.
The Prime Minister also said that India had strong, multifaceted and important relationship with each of the three countries he is visiting, observing,"they all occupy a very important place in our foreign policy."
After Seychelles, the Prime Minister would visit Mauritius where he will be the Chief Guest at the Independence Day celebrations on March 12, a date he called special to all Indians because Mahatma Gandhi began his Dandi March on the same date in 1930.