Amid strain in the Indo-Maldives relationship, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said though bilateral ties may have seen ups and downs, they were “not broken and cannot be broken”.
Addressing her annual press conference in Delhi, Ms Swaraj said India plays the role of a counsellor and gives humanitarian assistance to the island nation.
“Maldives is our neighbour. ‘India First’ is part of their foreign policy. In ties with Maldives, whichever government has been in power (in India), there have been ups and downs,” Ms Swaraj said.
“There had been ups and downs in the past, there are (ups and downs) now also. But ties with the Maldives are not broken and can not be broken,” she asserted.
Ms Swaraj’s remarks come days after Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said Maldives is a “challenge” for India at the moment as its current government is more inclined towards China.
Sunil Lanba’s remarks indicated that the ties between New Delhi and Male were yet to reach a level of normalcy.
India’s ties with Maldives nose-dived after it criticised the Abdulla Yameen government for imposing a 45-day emergency in the archipelago nation earlier this year.
During the crisis, India had ignored calls for military intervention from the opposition parties in the island nation.
The influence of China on Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, considered a backyard of India, has been growing and it is seen as a concern in New Delhi.
Maldives neither participated in the multi-national ‘MILAN’ naval conclave, a congregation of littoral navies conducted biennially by the Indian Navy at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which was held in mid-March this year, nor did its defence minister led his country’s delegation to take part in the DefExpo2018.
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