The United States is stepping up its watch of the Maldives since it was caught off-guard after the change of guard in the archipelago-nation. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert O'Blake whose initial South Asia tour programme last week had only slotted Colombo, squeezed in a Male visit to ascertain the situation.

The U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka who is also concurrently accredited to The Maldives, Patricia A. Butenis, is expected to travel this week to make an assessment.

Asked in Male if the U.S. had considered having an outpost in the Maldives, instead of working out of Colombo, Mr. Blake said: “That has been under consideration. We unfortunately haven't had the funding to do that…People who are in Colombo [U.S. Mission] spend a great deal of time here. We are spending more time on the ground here. And, as I said earlier, Maldives is a very important friend and a very important country for the United States.”

Talks with MDP on

Talks are still on between the Maldivian government representatives and the Maldivian Democratic Party, to which former President Nasheed belongs, to join the unity government, Mr. Blake said here on Monday.

Asked about the situation in The Maldives ever since he left Male two days ago, Mr. Blake, said that President Waheed has left some posts open in the hope that the MDP will join. “And I understand that conversations are underway with MDP about what kind of incentives that might be able possible to bring them into the government. So, again, it is upto the parties themselves to describe the discussion…We would welcome a broad coalition as possible right now to help the country prepare for the very, very important elections that will occur,” he said.

On the Commonwealth move to send a Ministerial team to investigate the circumstances of transfer of power, he said that the United States also supported an independent Maldivian mechanism to investigate the circumstances of transfer of power in Maldives. “I was pleased to hear that President Waheed has agreed that should proceed. That is very welcome. In terms of the on going process of government formation, President Waheed has formed part of his Cabinet now and all parties except the MDP have been brought into government,” he said.

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