Australia and Maldives said on Sunday they did not participate in the recently held Indian Ocean Region Forum convened by China, which the organisers had claimed brought together representatives from 19 countries in the region, except for India.
Both countries clarified there was no official representation at the China-backed forum. According to a statement from the organisers, the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) which is Beijing’s new development aid agency, the forum in Kunming had brought together “high-level representatives” from 19 countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, and Australia. No representative from India was invited.
The Maldives Foreign Ministry in a statement said it had noted the CIDCA statement and would “like to clarify that the Government of Maldives did not participate” and “there was no official representation”, stressing that “participation by individuals” did not constitute official representation.
Australia’s High Commissioner in Delhi, Barry O’Farrell said in a post on Twitter that “no Australian Government official attended the Kunming China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation.”
Former Maldives President Mohammed Waheed Hassan and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd were reported to have virtually joined the meeting, and both were attending in their individual capacity, not representing their governments.