The foreign ministry has strongly denied media reports about allowing an Indian military base in the Maldives in exchange for financial help to pay down Chinese debt.
Citing unnamed Indian government sources, the Nikkei Asian Review reported last week that India was considering an offer of US$1 billion worth of low-interest loans in exchange for a permanent military presence.
In a press statement Thursday, the foreign ministry “categorically refuted” and dismissed the claim as “baseless and aimed at discrediting the efforts of the government as it starts to rebuild good relations with its neighbours and the rest of the international community.”
It sought to assure the public that the new administration would “always act in the national interest of the Maldives, and will not undertake any international engagement that will compromise the sovereignty and independence of the country.”
The reports came at the end of a four-day official visit by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid to reset relations after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took office on November 17.
During the visit, Shahid reiterated an ‘India First’ foreign policy and assured the giant neighbour the Maldives would be “sensitive towards India’s security and strategic concerns.” India in turn assured “support in implementing [Maldives] development priorities and in ensuring fiscal and budgetary stability.”
At least US$1.5 billion is owed to China for financing the former administration’s infrastructure scale-up, a figure that eclipses the country’s annual tax revenue.