Washington: The US clarified that it was not planning to establish a military base in the Maldives in response to concerns being raised in both India and Sri Lanka about such a move.
A top official of the Obama administration said that the US was not planning to have a military base or permanent boots on the ground in Maldives.
The official also said that the US had consulted India on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that it is currently negotiating with Maldives and which could be signed soon.
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, said, “We do not have any plans to have a military presence in Maldives.”
He explained that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was an effort to provide a framework to the ongoing joint military exercises that the US has with Maldives.
Blake said, “I want to reassure everybody that this SOFA does not imply some new uptick in military co-operation or certainly does not apply any new military presence. It would just be to support our ongoing activities. I would like to reassure all our friends in India, what it is and what it isn’t. We have status of forces agreements with more than 100 nations around the world. And these are basically agreements we have with partners where we have significant military activities, typically exercises.’
“We always try to be transparent with India about everything that we are doing in South Asia. But certainly on Maldives, we always wanted to be transparent on our military activities,” Blake added.
According to an unverified draft copy of the SOFA agreement, Maldives would provide US forces with ship bunkering, access to sea ports and other facilities in the Indian Ocean. (Source: manoramaonline)