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GMR row: Maldives minister calls Khurshid to pacify India

Posted on Dec 04, 09:15PM | IANS

In an outreach diplomacy aimed at pacifying India, Maldives' Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdullah Tuesday rang up External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and explained his government's view on the cancellation of the airport contract given to Indian firm GMR.

The Maldives minister explained legal and other reasons behind the cancellation of the project, said official sources.

The sources added that Abdullah sought India's understanding and hoped it will not hurt bilateral ties, said the sources.

Abdullah conveyed to Khurshid that a detailed communication on the GMR issue will be sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

On his part, Khurshid conveyed India's displeasure at the decision on GMR project and underlined that the scrapping of the biggest single Indian FDI in the Maldives will negatively impact bilateral trade ties and the larger relationship.

In a move to put pressure on Male, India has put on hold aid to the Maldives after the Maldives government Monday decided to take control of the international airport despite a Singapore court staying the suspension of the contract given to India's GMR-led consortium.

The High Court of Singapore suspended the Maldives government's decision last week to terminate the USD 500 million contract awarded to the consortium for developing the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at Male.

The Maldives government, however, has chosen to defy the court order.

"We will continue the airport takeover and Inshallah next Saturday onwards MACL (state-controlled Maldives Airport Company Ltd.) will be running the airport," Defence Minister and acting Transport Minister Mohamed Nazim told reporters in Male Monday.

Upset at the Maldives government's attitude, India has put on hold USD 25-million budgetary commitment to Male, said reliable sources Monday.

The bilateral ties will be affected, said the sources.

The Indian government is also studying the court order and its implications, said the sources.