Maldives President Mohamed Waheed has denied the suggestion in the media that China nudged his country to push out the Male airport operator, Indian multinational company GMR.

“Absolutely no. Absolutely no,” he said. “The only significant cooperation we have with China at this time is through development assistance… like building the museum, housing projects. I don’t think India should worry about it at all.”

Dr. Waheed said that Maldives was not looking for a foreign investor to develop the Ibrahim Nasir Airport in Male. “Male International Airport was the single largest development project undertaken by the people of Maldives. It is a very sensitive and very emotional project. Some of that emotional part contributes to the political uproar. But we tried over the last nine months to look at this very objectively and not rush into things. We inherited the problem from the last government. Over a period of seven months, we tried to understand what the legal implications are, what the technical problems are, what the business implications are.” On compensation, he said that this would be decided through a process of arbitration.

Maldives was looking at developing a few domestic airports through Joint Ventures and partnerships. He would travel to countries in West Asia, including Saudi Arabia, to attract investment to develop infrastructure.

To drive home his point that no other Indian project had been affected, he said that Maldives had been discussing projects with other Indian firms, such as the Tatas. “The Tata Waste management project has been renegotiated. I am hoping that within the next week or so, it will be finalised. Similarly, the Tata housing project is going on. There is also another Indian project, a housing project, in Hulhumale. We have many other long standing Indian investments — we have the Taj Hotels, the State Bank of India, some Information Technology projects. Then there are many Indian traders,” he said.

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