After the Maldives signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with China in a surprise move, India on Thursday broke its silence on the matter saying that it expected the Indian Ocean archipelago nation to be sensitive to New Delhi’s concerns.
Stating that India attached the highest importance to its relations with the Maldives, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that the two countries “have strong historical and civilisational linkages and also at the people-to-people level”.
“We are also committed to supporting democracy, development and stability in the Maldives,” Kumar said in his weekly media briefing here.
“It is our expectation that as a close and friendly neighbour, Maldives will be sensitive to our concerns in keeping with its India first policy,” Kumar said.
The main Opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) led by former President Nasheed raised a red flag after the FTA was rushed through Parliament on November 29 in a record one hour without any debate.
What was surprising was that it was signed even after Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, during a visit to New Delhi, said that his country would sign an FTA with India first.
Regarding Yameen’s visit to China earlier this month, Kumar said: “We feel that as long as the development of bilateral relations between the two countries can contribute to the peace and stability in the region, we should welcome that.”
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