Maldives security is in India's interest
Referring to India's Neighbourhood First policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the security and stability of the Maldives are in the interest of India. The Prime Minister's statement comes in the face of China's growing influence economic over the Maldives. Agreeing with PM Modi, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said, "Our security is intimately linked with India's security."
India's relations with the Maldives
Indian Army's 'Operation Cactus' foiled a coup in Maldives that was attempted by a rebel group in 1988. India maintains a naval presence in Maldives, at the request of the Maldives, since 2009. India's Doriner was the first to land at the Ibrahim Nasir Airport with relief and supplies after the 2004 tsunami. Maldives has also supported India for permanent membership in the UNSC.
India, Maldives relations run into trouble
India had assisted Maldives' presidential election process by sending its observers to the country in 2013. However, India withdrew its observers after it emerged that Abdulla Yameen had unfairly won the elections and forced the country's first democratically elected leader President Nasheed to step down. Yameen subsequently consolidated his power, removed judiciary members, and arrested and imprisioned Nasheed citing "national security" concerns.
The GMR contract issue
President Yameen also scrapped a 2010 deal with GMR to renovate Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, saying the contract was illegally awarded to GMR. He gave the contract to a Chinese firm instead. However, GMR won the legal battle over the case and sought damages from Maldives.
The China factor in India-Maldives relations
The Yameen Government brought in a "liberalised leasing scheme" under which it leased one of its islands to China. China is assisting Maldives in construction of a bridge between the airport and the capital city of Male. Maldives is also part of China's Maritime Silk Road project, a move that has not gone down well in New Delhi.
The only South-Asian nation not on Modi's radar
The troubled 2013 elections and Maldives' growing pro-China tilt made PM Narendra Modi skip the country on his Indian Ocean tour. It is the only South Asian country that did not figure on Modi's list of international visits.
India, Maldives sign 6 agreements
India and Maldives signed six agreements in different sectors including avoidance of double taxation, conservation and restoration of ancient mosques, tourism and defence. The agreements were signed after comprehensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who is on a 2-day bilateral visit. The sides also signed an agreement on Orbit Frequency Coordination for the SAARC satellite.