Maldives has declined India’s invitation to participate in the eight-day-long mega naval exercise — Milan —beginning 6 March, in an apparent snub to New Delhi which has been critical of the Yameen government in view of the emergency in the island nation.
“Maldives was invited to join the Milan exercise but they have declined,” Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba told reporters, and indicated that the country may have taken the decision possibly due to the current situation there. “They have not given any reason,” he said.
Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand and Oman are among the countries that have confirmed their participation in the joint activity that starts March 6 in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The latest development is a reflection of a strain in ties between India and Maldives, which recently extended the state of emergency by 30 days. New Delhi had termed Maldives’ decision a “disturbing” development and tried to persuade the tiny island nation to restore democracy.
However, the Maldives government called India’s description of the 30-day extension of Emergency as “unconstitutional” “a clear distortion of facts” and accused New Delhi of ignoring “facts and ground realities”. In a strongly-worded statement, the Maldives Foreign Ministry asked friends and partners including India to “refrain from any actions that could hinder resolving the situation facing the country”.