Maldives declines India's invite to naval exercise amid strains in ties

Ebony Scott
March 2, 2018

While briefing the media persons during a press conference Sunil Lanba stated that "Maldives has not given any reason for the decision" to decline the invitation for the Naval exercise.

A navy official said Male's unprecedented decision not to join the exercise called for a "rethink" in policy.

Last year, Indian officials had also previewed some notable developments expected at MILAN 2018 as part of wider priorities for the Indian Navy this year, including a joint multilateral exercise at sea for the first time in addition to the usual mix of activities such as professional exercises and seminars, social events, and sporting fixtures.

Earlier in the day, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba confirmed that the Island nation has declined to participate in Milan exercise which is scheduled to take place from March 6-13.

The drill, held once every two years, is a chance for India to network and engage socially with other navies of the Indian Ocean.

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On the aggressive posturing adopted by China in the Indo-Pacific region, Lanba said there has been no change in the pattern of their deployment. The countries include Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Vietnam, Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya and Cambodia. The aim of the initiative was to have an effective forum to discuss common concerns in the Indian Ocean Region and forge deeper cooperation among friendly navies.

India has also urged Maldives government to release the Chief Justice and a Supreme Court judge and political prisoners.

"Our political leadership lead by President M Sirisena and Prime Minister (R Wickremesinghe) clearly stated the government won't enter into military alliance with any country for making our bases available to foreign countries", he added.

Later, it extended the emergency to another 30 days. Maldives has been regularly participating in the biennial exercise, which was started in 1995.

The issue has become a sore point between the two countries, especially with China asking India to respect Maldives sovereignty and not interfere in the country's affairs.

Other reports by GizPress

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