Maldives has refused an invitation to participate in the Milan Multilateral Naval Exercise for eight days from 6 March in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The apparent rejection occurs in the context of the political turmoil in the island nation and the tense relations with India after New Delhi criticized the imposition of the Emergency there.

“Maldives was invited to join the Milan exercise, but they have declined,” said Admiral Sunil Lanba, chief of the Navy, adding that “they (the Maldives) have not given any reason.”

The Indian Navy hosts the prestigious exercise every two years to foster closer maritime ties with neighboring countries. Sixteen countries will participate in this year’s exercise. The first mega event of that kind was held in 1995.

In a statement, the Maldives Ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed, said: “I would like to clarify that the Maldives can not participate in the naval exercise during this time due to the current circumstances of a State of Emergency in effect for those under investigation by Serious crimes During that time, the security personnel are expected to be in a more prepared position, and the participation of the Maldivian naval officers would have been only as observers. ”

He stressed that both countries enjoy a long history of excellent defense and military cooperation and “it is a tradition that we trust will last and will continue indefinitely.”

India provides training to Maldivian military personnel on a regular basis. India has also given them a fast patrol boat, two Dhruv helicopters and a Dornier mid-range reconnaissance aircraft. The two helicopters are piloted jointly by the Indian Navy and the pilots of the Maldivian navy, while the Coast Guard flies the Dornier to secure the Maldivian waters and its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

India has also established two coastal radars there to monitor activities along the Maldivian coast. The radars are linked to the coastal radar chain of mainland India to improve awareness of the maritime domain.

Relations between the two countries worsened after Maldives President Abdulla Yameen declared an emergency on Feb. 5 following an order by the country’s Supreme Court to free a group of opposition leaders who had been widely convicted in trials. criticized. On February 21, India reacted strongly for the extension of the emergency in a month.

Regarding the Milan exercise, officials said that it is taking place in the context of China’s growing military stance in the Indo-Pacific region and it is likely that the problem will be reflected during the deliberations of the event. China’s military maneuvers in the South China Sea can be included during the discussions between the heads of the Navy of the countries participating in the exercise.

When asked about the presence of Chinese ships in the Indo-Pacific region, an official said that the deployment of ships by the Chinese Navy has been since 2008. At any time, there are six to eight ships in the region. .

“We monitor them and we know what is happening,” he said, adding that “there is no cause for concern, it is a standard deployment in the Indian Ocean.”