The Wire learned that while India generally knew that talks had taken place, the text of the agreement had not been shared before it was signed Wednesday in Philadelphia. Although India and the United States have long seen the islands approach China with growing concern, it is extremely interesting that the decision of the United States to deepen military relations with the Maldives was taken in consultation with India, which has long expressed unease at the idea of interference by supraregional powers in its backyard. The Hindu noted yesterday that India had not only welcomed the agreement, but that US officials had presented a draft US agreement to the Maldives before Indian officials in Male. During discussions after the signing of the agreement, Mariya said the framework will strengthen defense and security cooperation between the two countries, Maldivian portal reported Sun online. Enthusiasm for the New Delhi agreement for the U.S.-Maldives defence pact stands in stark contrast to the circumstances in which the United States recently proposed a defence agreement with the Maldives. Under the title Framework for US Department of Defence-Maldives Ministry of Defence: Defence and Security Relationship „sets the two countries` intention to deepen engagement and cooperation in support to maintain peace and security in the Indian Ocean, and marks an important step forward in the defence partnership.“ Maldivist Defense Minister Mariya Didi signed the pact on September 10 in Philadelphia, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Southeast and South Asia, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Defense. However, Indian officials told The Wire that New Delhi supported the agreement because there was a clear signal of where the Maldives would be in the Indian Ocean region. „There can be no more clarity about the Maldives saying it is part of the Indo-Pacific space,“ said one official, using the term politically. Long before the framework agreement, the United States proposed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to then-President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik in 2012-13. Waheed had replaced the duly elected predecessor Mohammed Nasheed, now Speaker of Parliament, who stopped in the face of joint opposition resistance. There is a real possibility that the waters of the Indian Ocean will sooner or later be overcrowded, defence pacts and several navies crossing each other.
The Yameen government had signed an „indomaldivic defence action plan“ in July 2018, months before his re-election. The agreement provided for an institutional defence mechanism to promote bilateral cooperation, including port development, continuing education, capacity building, equipment supply and maritime surveillance of the Maldives. Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on to say that „India understands its role as a network security provider in the region.“ However, under the current government of President Ibrahim Solih, relations between New Delhi and Male were very close and officials said they were confident that the pact was being reached with the United States.