A delegation of US diplomats met with senior officials of India’s external affairs ministry last Thursday to discuss the political situation of the Maldives.
According to Indian media, the team was led by the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Atul Keshap. They had shared their concerns regarding the political turmoil in the Maldives with the Indian foreign secretary, S. Jaishankar.
Their discussion highlighted various issues such as the Maldivian government’s persecution of opposition leaders, including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed’s prison sentence and the ongoing trials of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s lawmaker son, Faris Maumoon.
US diplomats also voiced concerns over the government deploying the military to bar lawmakers from entering the parliament house last August, in connection with the opposition lobbied censure motion against Parliament Speaker Abdulla Maseeh. They stated that the incident was “very discouraging”.
Regarding the US’ concerns, the Maldives Ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed. told The Hindu newspaper that accusations of undemocratic acts by the current administration are exaggerated, reflecting a “western double standard”.
“We have said other countries must not be prescriptive or interfere in our affairs,” the ambassador was cited in The Hindu.
The US delegation had further highlighted that Chinese influence is rapidly growing in the Maldives with increasing investments, notably the development projects in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale and the “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge” currently being constructed between capital Male and airport island Hulhule.
However, the Indian foreign ministry did not comment whether India shares the US’ concerns regarding the Maldives.
Meanwhile, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has yet to reschedule an official visit to the Maldives after suddenly cancelling his trip in March 2015. Following the parliament crisis in August this year, former president Nasheed had visited India to meet with diplomats.