The Maldives declined Indian Navy’s invitation to attend ‘Milan’, an eight-day multilateral naval exercise, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Tuesday. Sharing details of the mega event that is set to take place at the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lanba said 16 countries will participate in the biennial naval exercise from March 6 to 13.
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.
“We are aware of the Chinese activities in Indian Ocean region. Their pattern of deployment has remained same since many years. At any time, there are 8-10 ships in the Indian Ocean,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
India has recently expressed “deep dismay” over Maldives’ decision to extend the state of emergency for another 30 days. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India desires to see that democracy is fully restored in Maldives. The island nation has been witnessing a brutal crackdown against dissidents under the orders of President Abdulla Yameen.
India has also urged Maldives government to release the Chief Justice and a Supreme Court judge, and political prisoners.
The Maldives government has, however, brushed aside India’s concerns saying that New Delhi’s public statements were a “clear distortion of facts.”
“The Government of Maldives takes note of the public statements issued by the Government of India that ignore the facts and ground realities with regard to the ongoing political developments in the Maldives. The assertion by the Government of India that the extension of the State of Emergency by the People’s Majlis was unconstitutional is a clear distortion of facts, which ignore the Constitution and Laws of the Maldives,” the Maldives government had said in a statement.
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.