Maldives declines India’s invite to ‘Milan’ naval exercise: Navy chief
Last week, it was reported that China was planning on setting-up a Joint Ocean Observation Station in the region.
Maldives has declined India’s invitation to participate in the biennial naval exercise Milan, which starts on March 6, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Tuesday.
Maldives has not given any reason for the decision, Lanba told reporters on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi.
Last week, it was reported that China was planning on setting-up a Joint Ocean Observation Station in the region. There were also reports about Chinese warships entering the waters close to the Maldives, amid the ongoing constitutional crisis in the SAARC country.
Navy sources said over 16 countries have confirmed their participation in the exercise.
India will host navies from at least 16 countries for the eight-day mega naval exercise with an aim to expand regional cooperation and combat unlawful activities in critical sea lanes.
The biennial exercise ‘Milan’ is being organised at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the backdrop of China’s growing military posturing in the Indo-Pacific region and officials said the issue is likely to figure during deliberations among navy chiefs of the participating countries at the event.
India, the US and several other nations have been pressing for freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea.