China, Maldives firms up defence ties amid GMR row

Tags: China, GMR, Maldives, News
Amidst a row over termination of Indian infrastructure major GMR's Male airport contract, China

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and Maldives today firmed up their defence ties with Beijing promising to maintain mutually beneficial relations with the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.

Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie held talks with Maldivian counterpart Col (Retd) Mohamed Nazim here during which both sides pledged to strengthen military ties, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The Ministers exchanged views on regional security as well as relations between the two countries and their militaries, it said.

The visit of Nazim comes days after Maldives eased out GMR from the Male airport project much to the disquiet of India.

Nazim, who arrived yesterday, was at the forefront of talks with GMR for the smooth taking over of the airport by Maldives government after it "unilaterally" terminated the $511 million contract, signed by the previous regime of Mohamed Nasheed, on November 27.

Media reports had then said that China could be the force behind the move against GMR.

"Looking at the political situation and political framework in Maldives, I can't rule out anything," GMR Airports chief financial officer (CFO) Sidharth Kapur had told journalists last week in a press conference in New Delhi when asked about China angle.

China has been developing relations with Maldives with aid and commercial deals after consolidating its ties with Sri Lanka, gaining strong footing in India's backyard.

In his meeting with Nazim, Liang said China and Maldives enjoy a long history of friendship and sound development of bilateral relations.

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