GMR row: India asks Maldives not to take any coercive action (Roundup)

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 04, 2012 17:10 hrs

Male/New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) India Tuesday made it clear to the Maldives that no arbitrary or coercive measure should be taken in the GMR case pending the outcome of the legal proceedings, underlining that any such action would inevitably have adverse consequences for bilateral relations.

This was conveyed by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid when his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Samad Abdullah telephoned him up in the wake of the scrapping of the airport contract to the GMR by the Maldivian government

Abdullah had mentioned that his government would not allow relations between India and Maldives to be undermined and that there was consensus on this issue, Syed Akbaruddin, the external affairs ministry spokesperson, told reporters here.

Khurshid reminded his Maldivian counterpart of his earlier discussions and stressed that "the legal processes involved in the GMR case should be permitted to take their own course based on the contractual obligations of the parties involved".

"The Maldivian government should not allow the situation to go out of hand," said the spokesperson while giving details of the telephonic conversation and the message conveyed by Khurshid to Abdullah.

"In this context, it is expected that no arbitrary and coercive measures should be taken pending the outcome of the legal process underway," said the spokesperson.

"Resort to any such actions would inevitably have adverse consequences for relations between India and the Maldives," he added.

In response to another question regarding the volatile situation in the Maldives, the spokesperson said India was concerned over reports from the Maldives about continuing violence and intimidation against elected representatives and expressions of radical sentiments.

"There is need to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and principles and tenets of democracy are maintained. We will continue to monitor the situation closely," he said.

However, the Maldives government has decided to go ahead with its plan to take full control of Male airport after ousting India's GMR. The call by the Maldives foreign minister was aimed at pacifying India, which is deeply upset over the cancellation of the airport contract given to Indian firm GMR.

The Maldives minister explained legal and other reasons behind the cancellation of the project, said official sources.

The sources added that Abdullah sought India's understanding and hoped it will not hurt bilateral ties, said the sources.

Abdullah conveyed to Khurshid that a detailed communication on the GMR issue will be sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

On his part, Khurshid conveyed India's displeasure at the decision and underlined that the scrapping of the biggest single Indian FDI in the Maldives will negatively impact bilateral trade ties and the larger relationship.

In a move to put pressure on Male, India has put on hold aid to the Maldives after the Maldives government Monday decided to take control of the international airport despite a Singapore court staying the suspension of the contract given to India's GMR-led consortium.

The High Court of Singapore suspended the Maldives government's decision last week to terminate the $500 million contract awarded to the consortium for developing the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at Male.

The Maldives government, however, has chosen to defy the court order.

"We will continue the airport takeover and Inshallah next Saturday onwards MACL (state-controlled Maldives Airport Company Ltd) will be running the airport," Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Mohamed Nazim told reporters in Male Monday.

Upset at the Maldives government's attitude, India has put on hold $25-million budgetary commitment to Male, said reliable sources Monday. The bilateral ties will be affected, said the sources. The Indian government is also studying the court order and its implications, said the sources.

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