1 of 2 | United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday announced the United States was re-opening its embassy in Seychelles. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo
June 2 (UPI) -- The United States said on Thursday that it has re-opened its embassy in Victoria, Seychelles, marking a return to a full-time diplomatic presence on the island nation in the East Indian Ocean.
The decision marked a return to a full-time U.S. presence in Seychelles for the first time in 27 years as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it "symbolizes our commitment to deepening our partnership with the government and people of Seychelles as a key nation in the Indian Ocean region."
"The time is right to elevate the relationship so that together we can better address shared challenges and take advantage of mutually beneficial opportunities," Blinken said. "The United States and Seychelles share an agenda that includes developing the blue economy, responding to climate change, improving maritime security, and stemming transnational crime and corruption."
The United States first established diplomatic relations with Seychelles in 1976, following Seychelles' independence from Britain. The State Department said the two have enjoyed a history of partnership and cooperation based on shared priorities in the Indian Ocean.
In 2021, the two countries signed a maritime governance agreement to preserve ecosystems and prevent crimes at sea. That agreement, titled Countering Illicit Transnational Maritime Activity Operations, was the first bilateral maritime pact between the United States and the East African country.
Jim Donegan, who currently serves as U.S. Special Advisor to Seychelles, now becomes the U.S. Charge d'Affaires ad interim.
Seychelles, with a population of 107,000, is a major tourist destination with the highest per capita GDP in Africa. Its tourism- and fishing-based economy, though, is vulnerable to piracy and illegal fishing, the State Department said.