India expresses support for Maldives-US security framework

Minister of Defence Mariya Didi (L) and the United States of America’s Department of Defence’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia, Reed Werner (R). Photo: Ministry of Defence

Malé, Maldives — The Indian government has expressed support regarding the Maldives-US security framework, according to Indian media ‘The Wire’.

The Maldives’ framework agreement with the United States of America’s Department of Defence is to strengthen the defence and security relationships between the two countries, US and Maldives.

Indian officials had touted the move as a sign of shifting tides within the region, despite having to oppose the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in 2013.

“There cannot be more clarity that Maldives is saying that it is part of the Indo-Pacific”, an official stated, in reference to the US-led geopolitical concept.

The Indo-Pacific strategy was described by the US as an “ironclad and enduring commitment” to a region that spans from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian subcontinent. A strategy that seems to be established to mar Chinese influence within the region.

The agreement was originally opposed by the India due to the questionable bilateral relations with the Indian government during the presidencies of Mohamed Waheed and Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

“Yes, we did discourage a SOFA in 2013 as it would have justified a similar agreement with China and an offer to us as well, leaving an outcome that was less desirable than the existing state. And in 2013 both [the US and Maldives] listened to us”, said an official.

The agreement was signed on Wednesday at Philadelphia, which outlined various bilateral activities such as senior-level dialogues and maritime domain awareness on natural disasters and relief operations.

Regarding this matter, the Maldivian defence ministry stated that, It is a “positive step towards furthering the close ties that exist between the two countries, especially in the defence and security sectors…”

This movement was taken at a time where opposition forces are committed on criticizing President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration for “selling off Maldives” and claiming threats against the country’s sovereignty amid growing ties with India.