13 Oct Us Maldives Defence Agreement
The signing of a defense and security agreement between the Maldives and the United States earlier this week is seen as consistent with the growing alignment of U.S. and Indian interests in the Indian Ocean (IOC) and Indopazifik. According to Indian officials, the bilateral framework agreement between the United States and the Maldives does not contain too many operational details, but offers broad lines on areas of convergence. “Most of the points mentioned in the agreement are very much in our interest, such as countering violent extremism, HADR [humanitarian aid and disaster relief] and support for a rules-based order in the region,” sources added. From the perspective of India coming from China, it is possible that sooner or later the waters of the Indian Ocean will be overcrowded with defense pacts and several navies crossing through. Sri Lanka, the ocean`s immediate neighbour, recently reaffirmed its continued commitment to Colombo`s India First policy. The United States has signed a defense cooperation framework with the Maldives to deepen commitment to support the maintenance of peace and security in the strategic Indian Ocean, the Pentagon said, as the Trump administration seeks to strengthen alliances in Indopazifik to counter China`s growing presence in the region. The United States and the tiny islands of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean reached a defense agreement on September 10. According to a U.S. Department of Defense press release, “Framework for U.S. Ministry of Defence-Maldives Ministry of Defence and Security” means an “intention to deepen engagement and cooperation to support the maintenance of peace and security in the Indian Ocean, and marks an important step forward in the defence partnership”.
While the Maldives and the United States previously had security cooperation, India had previously opposed a proposed status-of-forces agreement between the two countries. That was in 2013. At that time, the signing of a defense pact, according to officials, meant a clear abandonment of China`s Male on the security front. It is possible that, sooner or later, the waters of the Indian Ocean will be overcrowded with defense pacts and several intersecting navies. In a sign of the growing maritime proximity between New Delhi and Washington, New Delhi welcomed the Maldives government`s decision to sign a military agreement with the United States, the first signed Male with a country other than India. In the past, New Delhi had objected to the US and China expanding their strategic presence in this part of the Indian Ocean, considered India`s “sphere of influence”. The enthusiasm generated by the New Delhi agreement on the U.S.-Maldives defense pact contrasts sharply with the circumstances in which the U.S. recently proposed a defense agreement with the Maldives. . . .