New Delhi: Maldives on Tuesday clarified that it declined India’s invitation to participate in the biennial naval exercise Milan due to the present circumstances of a State of Emergency back home.
The statement by Maldives Embassy in Delhi said, “Maldives is unable to participate in the naval exercise during this time due to the current circumstances of a State of Emergency being in effect for those under investigation for serious crimes. During such a time especially, security personnel are expected to be at a heightened stance of readiness.”
It also played down its decision to stay away from the exercise, saying that the participation of Maldives Naval officers "would have been as observers only" and their absence was "not extraordinary".
“When situations warrant that officers be at their post, back at home, we have held back on deploying them to participate in exercises and training programs held overseas, and as such, not being able to participate in the naval exercise at this time is not extraordinary,” the statement added.
Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Tuesday announced that the Indian Ocean archipelago had turned down the offer to join the eight-day long mega naval exercise - Milan - starting 6 March.
"They have not given any reason," the Navy Chief added.
The biennial naval exercise, first held in 1995 with just five navies, aims to expand regional cooperation and expects to have representation from 16 navies including Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand and Oman....