India rejects China threat,
ready to embrace democratic Maldives
Nov 10 (IANS) India Monday rejected speculation about China's
threat to its interests in the Maldives and underlined its
close and special ties with the Indian Ocean archipelago that
it said will continue to thrive under the new democratic dispensation.
“smooth democratic transition” in the Maldives, known better
as a luxury holiday getaway, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said
the multi-party elections that brought Mohamed Nasheed, a
former political prisoner, to power last month has been “widely
welcomed” in India.
has been widely welcomed in India. India's relations with
the Maldives remain very close,” Ansari told reporters aboard
his special aircraft on way to Male to attend the swearing-in
ceremony of Nasheed, who ousted Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Asia's
longest-serving leader, in the historic polls Oct 28.
will be no change. Let him take stock of things,” Ansari said
when asked how he envisaged the future of bilateral relations
under the new democratic dispensation in Maldives, a strategically
important country, 800 km away from India's southern tip and
one where China is reportedly trying to make inroads.
Ansari arrived here on a two-day visit Monday afternoon, Male
rolled out the red carpet to welcome him. He was received
warmly by Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid at the international
will be among a galaxy of world leaders and dignitaries who
will attend the oath-taking ceremony of Nasheed - the 41-year-old
pro-democracy activist who has come to epitomize a new Maldives
- Tuesday at a grand ceremony at Dharubaaruge, an international
convention centre located on the eastern seafront in Male.
vice-president will hold talks with Nasheed and his counterpart
Mohamed Waheed Hasan on a wide range of bilateral and regional
issues, including the intensification of economic ties, developmental
assistance, climate change, and issues relating to SAARC.
vice-president will also call on Gayoom, who is not planning
to devote his life to his pet cause: climate change.
government is delighted at a very democratic election and
a smooth transition,” he said, indicating New Delhi's comfort
level with the new leadership in Male.
don't know how credible these reports are,” Ansari replied
when asked whether the growing influence of China, as reported
in a section of international press, posed a threat to India's
interests in the Indian Ocean islands comprising 1,190 islands
that are home to 370,000 people.
are an open society. He is not an unknown entity in India,”
Ansari said when asked whether political parties in India
cold-shouldered Maldives new president-elect when he was seeking
support from influential sections in India for the democratic
battle against the three-decade dictatorial rule of Gayoom.
Maldives watchers in India have expressed concerns at China's
efforts to scale up its economic and strategic presence in
the Maldives that may pose a threat to India's interests.
cite China's funding of many development projects in the Maldives
and allude to reports about China entering into a deal to
build a naval base in one of the Maldives islands.
president Gayoom has vehemently denied these reports about
Maldives' perceived drift towards China. New Delhi has taken
note of these reports, but is confident its multi-faceted
ties with the Maldives will prevent it from slipping under
relations go much beyond government-to-government contacts.
It's a people-to-people relationship,” he stressed while alluding
to nearly 20,000 Indians who live and work in the Maldives.
A large number of Maldives diplomats have been trained in