Maldives not in favour of Chinese naval expansion in Indian Ocean

Monday, 28 February 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

NEW DELHI: Maldives doesn’t favour the rapid Chinese naval expansion in the Indian Ocean and is against any sort of military build up in the region.

Underlining his country’s special ties with India, visiting Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on Friday said there is not enough room for other players, especially “non-traditional friends” in the region.

“Maintaining balance in the Indian Ocean is very important. There is not enough room in the Indian Ocean for other non-traditional friends,” said Nasheed, while talking to journalists at the end of his three-day visit to India.

“We are not receptive to any installation, military or otherwise, in the Indian Ocean, specially from un-traditional friends. The Indian Ocean is the Indian Ocean,” he added. He was answering a query about the rapid Chinese expansion in the region.

Nasheed also ruled out the possibility of Beijing managing to further its ties with Male at the expense of India. “We have very good friendly relations with India. We believe in being honest with our friends,” he said.

“India is a better investment destination. Language, culture, music, food. It’s far easier to deal with India than with China,” he replied when asked to compare the experience of doing business with India and China.

On the ongoing crisis in Libya, Nasheed said that Libya should be immediately dropped from the UN council for human rights. He also urged India to play a more active role in bringing peace in the country.

In the morning, Nasheed met PM Manmohan Singh and discussed a host of issues. “We had discussions on the Indian Ocean, piracy, climate change and trade and investment. Piracy is a very important issue for us. We are sitting right in the middle of the Indian Ocean,” he said.

Nasheed also discussed the ongoing preparations in his country to host the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in November.

India, Maldives to combat piracy, expand economic ties

New Delhi: Amid reports of Somali pirates heading into Asian waters, India and the Maldives, the Indian Ocean archipelago known for its idyllic beach resorts, Thursday discussed steps to intensify anti-piracy cooperation and decided to scale up bilateral trade and investment.

Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed, who began a three-day visit to India Wednesday, met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and discussed a host of issues, including steps to expand maritime security cooperation between the two countries.

The two also discussed counter-terrorism, intensifying economic cooperation and India’s developmental assistance.

Climate change also figured prominently in the discussions. This is an issue of existential importance for the Maldives, one of the world’s lowest-lying island nations that faces the prospect of extinction in case of a perceptible surge in sea levels triggered by global warming.

In 2007, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that a rise in sea levels of 18 to 59 centimetres by 2100 would be enough to make the country practically uninhabitable.

In a gesture that underscored the growing importance of the Indian Ocean in India’s foreign policy calculus, Congress president and United Progressive Alliance chair Sonia Gandhi, accompanied by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, went over to meet Nasheed at his suite in the Oberoi hotel.

Amid preparations for Monday’s budget, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also found time to call on the visiting president and discuseed India’s interest in bolstering infrastructure in that country.