The signing of a defense and security agreement between the Maldives and the United States earlier this week is seen as consistent with the growing alignment of U.S. and Indian interests in the Indian Ocean (IOC) and Indopazifik. A senior Indian official told The Hindu that the Indian embassy in Male had been informed of the negotiations and that a copy of the two-page document had been signed. Although details of the framework agreement have not yet been released, it is considered to involve fundamental cooperation between the U.S. and Maldivian navies and instructs both sides to plan their initial discussions on defense and security dialogue. Didi tweeted Saturday that the deal was „an important step in defense and security cooperation between the United States and the Maldives.” As the Congressional Research Service explains, SOFAs are agreements that „generally define the framework under which U.S. military personnel operate in a foreign country and how the domestic laws of foreign jurisdiction apply to U.S. personnel in that country.” The agreement also established an institutional mechanism for bilateral dialogue on defence and security. Dr.
Sripathi Narayanan studies the context and importance of the US-Maldives defense agreement for India. One of the main reasons the Maldives dropped SOFA was that New Delhi opposed it. „Yes, we advised against a SOFA in 2013, as it would have justified a similar deal with China and an offer to us, which would have left a less desirable outcome than the existing state. And in 2013, both [the U.S. and the Maldives] listened to us,” an Indian official with knowledge of the developments told The Wire. The Wire has learned that while India is largely aware that talks are ongoing, the text of the deal was not shared until the signing in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The agreement sends a timely signal to China when Indian and Chinese soldiers are caught in a stalemate over the line of effective control in Ladakh. Mariya Didi, Minister of Defense of the Maldives, and Reed Werner, U.S.
Deputy Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, sign the U.S.-Maldives Defense Framework Agreement. Photo: Ministry of Defense, Maldives COLOMBO — A defense agreement signed by the U.S. government this month with the Maldives is a sign of geopolitical tides shifting in a strategic part of the Indian Ocean, once dominated by India, South Asia`s leading power. „This agreement encourages high-level dialogues, strengthens partner capabilities and increases interoperability with our partners in the Maldives National Defence Force,” Teplitz, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka`s capital, told the Nikkei Asian Review. While significant in itself — India and the United States have long watched the islands visit with growing concern — it is extremely interesting to note that the U.S. decision to deepen its military relations with the Maldives was taken in consultation with India, which has long expressed unease at the idea of interference by extra-regional powers in its backyard. The Hindu noted yesterday that not only did India welcome the deal, but that US officials showed Indian officials a draft agreement between the US and the Maldives. In 2013, New Delhi managed to sink US plans for a status-of-the-armed agreement with the Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago best known for its high-end tourist resorts. The agreement was to provide a framework for existing defense activities between the U.S.
and the Maldives and not create a „new military presence,” Washington said at the time. According to Indian officials, the bilateral framework agreement between the United States and the Maldives does not contain too many operational details, but offers broad lines on areas of convergence. „Most of the points mentioned in the agreement are very much in our interest, such as countering violent extremism, HADR [humanitarian aid and disaster relief] and supporting a rules-based order in the region,” sources added. . . .