Mozambique welcomes disaster, defense assistance from India

Mozambique welcomes disaster, defense assistance from India

Six months after a trio of Indian Navy ships broke off from an exercise near the island nation of Madagascar to rush to the aid of cyclone-stricken Mozambique, the African nation welcomed Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Highlights of Singh’s July 2019 visit included talks with Mozambique’s leaders, the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and the delivery of a pair of fast interceptor boats (FIBs) that were made in India.

The visit began with a ceremony at the Mozambican Army Headquarters where Singh was greeted by an honor guard, pictured.

Later, Singh met with Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario and with Defense Minister Atanasio Salvador M’tumuke, according to India’s Ministry of Defence. Singh was accompanied by a delegation from his own ministry, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indian Coast Guard.

The MoUs included one on white shipping, which allows for the navies of both countries to share information about commercial shipping in each other’s oceans, and one on cooperation in the field of hydrography.

The FIBs were handed over on July 29, 2019, in a ceremony at the Mozambican Naval Headquarters with the director general of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the chief of the Mozambique Navy in attendance. A four-member ICG team will assist Mozambique’s Navy with training and support for maintenance and operation of the two boats.

“We consider Mozambique among our most important friends and partners in Africa,” Singh said on the day of the handover ceremony. “We are neighbors across the Indian Ocean. India and Mozambique enjoy warm and substantive ties which have been built upon in modern times to forge a strong relationship based on increasing engagement.”

M’tumuke expressed gratitude for India’s support for Mozambique’s military, which plans to use the vessels for coastal surveillance. Specifically, M’tumuke said the two FIBs would help combat “smuggling, arms trafficking, terrorism and maritime piracy.” The boats will carry the Mozambican names Namiliti and Umbeluzi.

The FIBs were built by India’s Larsen & Toubro shipyard. They are capable of running missions of up to 72 hours at sea and can operate up to 80 kilometers from the coast.

Singh also delivered a gift of 44 sport utility vehicles to Mozambique’s National Criminal Investigation Service on behalf of the Indian government.

M’tumuke briefed Singh on his country’s internal security situation and the ongoing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process of former combatants of the Mozambican National Resistance, which recently signed an indefinite truce with Mozambique’s government after decades of intermittent clashes.

Singh’s meetings with Mozambican leaders covered a broad range of bilateral relations, including government-to-government ties, business exchanges, development partnerships and people-to-people links.

India and Mozambique have long-standing ties, particularly since the African country gained independence in 1975, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs. India has supported Mozambique, which is home to about 20,000 ethnic Indians, with donations and lines of credit.

“The visit witnessed the growing defense cooperation between Mozambique and India,” said an Indian Ministry of Defence spokesperson, “and the potential such collaboration offers for enhancing security in the Indian Ocean Region.”

Mandeep Singh is a FORUM contributor reporting from New Delhi, India.