My Right Honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (James Cleverly), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
Following the meeting between the then Prime Minister, my Rt Hon Friend the Member for South West Norfolk, and Prime Minister Jugnauth at the UN General Assembly, the UK and Mauritius have decided to begin negotiations on the exercise of sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)/Chagos Archipelago.
Through negotiations, taking into account relevant legal proceedings, it is our intention to secure an agreement on the basis of international law to resolve all outstanding issues, including those relating to the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago. This will allow the UK and Mauritius, as close Commonwealth partners, to work even more closely together to tackle the regional and global security challenges that face us all. We will seek to strengthen significantly our cooperation on Indian Ocean security, maritime security and marine protection, the conservation of the environment, climate change, respect for human rights, and to tackle illegal migration, illegal fishing, drugs and arms trafficking, as well as bilateral cooperation on a range of other issues. We will work to do this in cooperation with key allies and partners in the region.
The UK and Mauritius have reiterated that any agreement between our two countries will ensure the continued effective operation of the joint UK/US military base on Diego Garcia, which plays a vital role in regional and global security. We recognise the US’s and India’s interests and will keep them informed of progress.
The UK and Mauritius have agreed to engage in constructive negotiations, with a view to arriving at an agreement by early next year.
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons