“The agreement talks about maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean and promoting a rules-based regime that promotes stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. The broad areas of cooperation and the explicit approval of a rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific region are consistent with India`s general interests and regional stability,” government sources told The Hindu. However, under the current government of President Ibrahim Solih, relations between New Delhi and Male were extremely close and officials said they were confident that the pact with the United States would not harm India`s position on the islands. Last year, the Solih government also overturned an agreement signed by the Yameen government with China to develop an “ocean observation station” on its western westernest island of Makunudhoo. The agreement also provides for the establishment of an institutional mechanism for bilateral defence and security dialogue. On September 10, Maldivist Minister of Defense Mariya Didi, visiting the United States, signed the Framework for U.S. Department of Defence-Maldives Ministry of Defence and Security Relationship with Deputy Deputy Minister of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Reed Werner. The signing of a defence and security agreement between the Maldives and the United States earlier this week is seen as consistent with the growing focus of U.S. and Indian interests in the Indian Ocean (IOR) and Pacific Ocean regions. New Delhi`s growing willingness to cooperate with outsiders in the Indian Ocean could also lead to unintended complications. The United States and the tiny Indian Ocean islands in the Maldives reached a defense agreement on September 10.
According to a U.S. Department of Defense press release, the Framework for U.S. Department of Defense-Maldives Ministry of Defense and Security Relationship represents an “intention to deepen engagement and cooperation for peace and security in the Indian Ocean” and represents an important step forward in the defense partnership. “It is significant that the Maldives has taken a strategic position and signed this agreement with the United States and not with China, even though it is part of the BIS (Belt and Road Initiative),” the official added, suggesting that the decision could also be a blow to China`s infrastructure projects in the Maldives. After the project began, the opposition reported that the Mohamed Waheed government had authorized the United States to build a base in the Maldives. There have been repeated denials by senior U.S. diplomats and Maldivian government officials about the possibility of a base and that the scope of the agreement is related only to the training of defense personnel. The indopapanic space – or the free and open indopapape zone, as the United States calls it – is a construction that presents the region, stretching from the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, as a strategic continuum in which the United States, India and other maritime powers act with common interests to contain Chinese influence.