NEW DELHI: A diplomatic row has erupted after Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon disputed New Delhi’s statement that the Maritime Silk Road Project was not raised during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the country.
The issue surfaced when Maumoon was questioned in Maldives Parliament by opposition members on November 5 over participating in China’s Maritime Silk Road Project. She had, as per local media reports, said that India had discussed the project when Xi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin denied the claim. “It (Maritime Silk Road Project) was neither raised, nor discussed on the visit of President Xi Jinping to India,” he said. On Tuesday morning, Maumoon issued a combative statement. “My answers were based on the most accurate information available. The data shows that the Maritime Silk Road Project was in fact discussed during the Chinese President’s recent visit to India,” she said.
The link she was referring to was a press release on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website, dated 18 September. The press release, which is not a bilateral document, mentions the project in a list of frameworks for cooperation that the Chinese President had apparently discussed with Modi.Indian High Commissioner Rajeev Shahare tweeted a link of the original joint statement issued during the Chinese President’s state visit. The 28-paragraph document had no mention of the maritime silk route.
Incidentally, Maumoon’s feisty retort on Tuesday comes after a conciliatory statement on November 9. “The Minister had used this example to highlight the excellent relation between India and China,” Maldives Foreign Ministry said.
Maumoon reiterated that President Abdulla Yameen’s foreign policy is aimed at “promoting the national interests of the Maldives, not the interests of any other country”.
Not just Maumoon, even the Maldives President is advocated a turn towards China on Monday in his Republic Day speech.
Maumoon slams Mdp’s pro-india stand
Taking a potshot at the opposition, Dunya Maumoon said, “The Maldivian public is concerned that the opposition MDP and its media instruments are actively involved in promoting the objectives and interests of another country in the Maldives, to the detriment of our country’s independence and sovereignty.” MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed had demaned that President Yameen reverse his decision on Maldives being party to the silk route.