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Maldives to go on with airport takeover; India talks tough

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Male/New Delhi:

The Maldives government is going ahead with its plan to take full control of Male airport after ousting India's GMR even as New Delhi warned that arbitrary and coercive action without waiting for the outcome of legal proceedings on the issue would have adverse consequences for bilateral relations.

The Maldives reached out to India with a message that it would explain at the highest level its controversial move to terminate the contract with GMR to build the airport in Male.

With India making no secret of its displeasure over the unilateral decision to scrap the $500 million GMR project, Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdullah today telephoned his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid in a bid to mollify an upset India and told him that a detailed communication on it will be sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by President Mohammed Waheed.

However, Maldivian government made it clear tonight that Male airport will be taken over by a state-run company by Saturday despite Singapore High Court giving ruling in favour of Indian infrastructure company GMR.

"Yes, we will go ahead with the takeover of the Airport as planned. A plan to hand over the running of the airport without any hiccups is also being worked out between the Maldivian government, its company and GMR," President Waheed's press secretary Masood Imad told PTI.

On the other hand, India sent out a stern message to Maldives saying it expected no arbitrary and coercive action should be taken pending the outcome of legal proceedings on the GMR contract issue and warned that recourse to any such action would have adverse consequences for bilateral relations.

In response to a question on the GMR issue, the official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi that "we are concerned over reports from the Maldives about continuing violence and intimidation against elected representatives and expressions of radical sentiments".

During his conversation with Khurshid, Abdullah said he was not aware of India's displeasure over the issue, official sources said in New Delhi.

However, New Delhi has maintained that they had conveyed their displeasure to Maldives immediately after the termination of the project and asked it to ensure that Indian interest was "fully protected".

The official Spokesman of External Affairs Ministry asked Maldives to ensure that the rule of law "is upheld and principles and tenets of democracy are maintained. We will continue to monitor the situation closely."

Referring to the telephonic conversation Abdullah had with Khurshid, the Spokesperson said the Maldivian minister had mentioned that his government would not allow relations between his country and India to be undermined and there was consensus on this issue.

Khurshid reminded the Foreign Minister of Maldives of his earlier discussions noting that the legal processes involved in the GMR case should be permitted to take their own course based on the contractual obligations of the parties involved and the Maldivian government should not allow the situation to go out of hand.

Abdullah called up Khurshid in a bid to mollify an upset India following the Maldivian government's decision to
terminate GMR's $500 million airport project in Male.

Story first published on: December 04, 2012 23:14 (IST)

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