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India to gift Seychelles coastguard boat, Dornier aircraft: Modi

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: After holding talks with visiting Seychelles President James Alix Michel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday the gifting of an Interceptor Coastguard boat and a second Dornier aircraft to Seychelles.

Narendra-ModiModi, who had met Michel during a visit to the strategic Indian Ocean archipelago nation in March this year, termed Seychelles a key strategic partner for India and said Michel’s visit has imparted additional momentum to bilateral relations.

“We are honoured to be a partner in providing aircraft, naval vessels and coastal radar systems for strengthening surveillance capacities. Our cooperation in hydrography surveys is extensive and growing,” Modi said.

Both sides signed five agreements, including exchange of information with regard to taxes and an MoU for providing a Dornier aircraft.

Modi said India will be gifting one more Interceptor Coastguard boat to Seychelles.

“In March, I had announced that we would gift a second Dornier aircraft to Seychelles. I am pleased that we have completed the process quickly and signed the agreement today,” he said.

Fisherman_Seychelles

He termed the agreement for cooperation on blue economy as a “huge step forward” in ties and in promoting sustainable ocean economy in the region. Modi said both sides look forward to cooperating in space, including in the areas of managing land and marine resources, fisheries advisory, weather forecasting and disaster management.

“We have begun preparations for infrastructure development on the Assumption Island in Seychelles,” Modi said.

He said the Air Services agreement inked on Wednesday would enable more and easier connections between the two countries.

With the climate change summit in December, Modi said that climate change is a serious threat to island countries like Seychelles. “With a shoreline of 7,500 km and nearly 1,300 islands, India has similar concerns.” He proposed that both could “work together for a comprehensive, balanced and effective outcome on climate change at COP 21 in Paris later this year”.

He expressed appreciation for Seychelles’ support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded UN security council.

He also conveyed India’s “desire to work with Small Island Developing States to realise their vision of Samoa Pathway and to be a source of strength for each other in international forums”.

He also thanked Seychelles for its support in making the International Day of Yoga a big success.

James Alix Michel Photo credit: seychellesreality.blogspot.com
James Alix Michel
Photo credit: seychellesreality.blogspot.com

Michel, in his media statement, said his visit to India within five months of Modi’s visit “illustrates the unique relationship the two have on shared values and aspirations”.

He said both have common goals in the Indian Ocean Rim Association and that the agreements signed on Wednesday would pave the way for enhancement of bilateral ties.

He expressed appreciation for the Dornier aircraft, which he said, would significantly enhance security of his country.

Michel said Seychelles has expressed willingness to be part of the maritime cooperation between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The five documents exchanged were for exchange of information with regard to taxes; an MoU for providing one Dornier maritime aircraft; an air services agreement; a protocol on framework of cooperation on blue economy; an MoU in agricultural research and education; and presentation of navigational chart of an island of Seychelles to the foreign minister.

Michel arrived here on Tuesday on a three-day visit.

With inputs from IANS

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

Donald Trump, India
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)