Special Envoy's Visit Was Turned Down by India - Maldives


On Thursday, the Yameen Abdul Gayoom had announced that it was sending special envoys to 3 "friendly countries" China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, with India conspicuously missing from the list.

India, which has had longstanding political and security ties to the islands about 400 km (250 miles) away, has sought to push back against China's expanding presence in the country of 400,000 people, a lot of them Muslims.

The Maldives has plunged into a crisis with its President Abdullah Yameen declaring a state of Emergency and arresting the Chief Justice and former head of state. The statement is apparently aimed at India because Maldives opposition leaders have been seeking Indian military intervention to preserve democracy in the island nation.

India sent soldiers to foil a coup against the government in 1988 but has since refrained from getting directly involved in the country's unstable politics.

China on Friday said that it is in touch with India to discuss a way to resolve the political turmoil gripping the Maldives while also underlining that Beijing doesn't want the issue to become another "flashpoint" in ties with New Delhi.

The Maldivian ambassador also said that his country would have liked that this meeting could have taken place as the discussion across the table is the best to understand the situation and address bilateral concerns, if any.

"In view of prevailing situation in Maldives, applicable penalties of re-issuance, date change, no-show, cancellation and refund charges for travel from/to Male for both domestic and global flights stand waived for travel during the period 5 February 2018 to 20 February 2018", the airline said in a social media post on Thursday.

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The warning from China's foreign ministry comes ahead of the "Spring Festival" - the peak period for Chinese tourists to visit the Maldives.

Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Mohamed Shainee is going to Saudi Arabia.

An official statement by the Maldives Embassy on Friday said that the first stop of the special envoy had actually been planned for India but had to be cancelled due on the request of the Indian government, citing unavailability of dates.

Supporters of political parties that oppose the Maldives government have clashed with police on the streets of the capital after the country's supreme court ordered the release of imprisoned politicians.

India, which is monitoring the situation very "closely", had said on Tuesday that it was "disturbed" about the declaration of emergency by the Maldivian government and described as a matter of "concern" the arrests of the chief justice and political figures there.

Embattled President Abdulla Yameen, who disobeyed Supreme Court orders to free jailed political opponents, had declared a state of emergency on February 6.