March 17, 2018

Male declines Delhi's invite for naval exercise

02 March 2018, 06:47 | Rodolfo Wallace

Maldives Declines Indian Invite for Joint Exercise, Analysts Cite China as Cause

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Tuesday announced that the Indian Ocean archipelago had turned down the offer to join the eight-day long mega naval exercise- Milan- starting 6 March

Confirming that Maldives will stay away from Milan exercise, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba today said that Male did not give any reason for the decision.

The social interactions planned for the event include exhibitions by the Indian Army, Navy, display of state-of-the-art ships and cultural meetings.

Maldives, which is undergoing a political turmoil, has declined India's invite to participate in the 2018 naval exercise Milan, which begins from March 6, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Tuesday.

The exercise is taking place in the backdrop of China's growing military posturing in the Indo-Pacific region and officials indicated that the issue is likely to figure during deliberations at the event.

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Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand and Oman are among countries that have confirmed their participation in the joint activity that starts on 6 March in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

However, he asserted that Maldives and India enjoy a "long history of excellent defence and military cooperation and it is a tradition that we are confident that will endure and continue indefinitely".

He said that China has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in Indian Ocean and that India has been monitoring their movements. The development comes a few days after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency. The opposition alliance, which includes the parties of former presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said they had enlisted British lawyer Ben Emmerson to advise them on securing United Nations mediation in the crisis, reported AFP. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said India is keeping an eye on the situation and desires to see that democracy is fully restored in Maldives. Despite New Delhi's appeal, Maldives government has even extended the state of emergency citing security concerns. "The assertion by the Government of India that the extension of the State of Emergency by the People's Majlis was unconstitutional is a clear distortion of facts, which ignore the Constitution and Laws of the Maldives", the Maldives government had said in a statement.

The decision by Maldives has come at a time when there are concerns that China may be interfering with the affairs of the trouble-torn island nation.

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