After Maldives, Australia on Sunday clarified that it did not participate in the “China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation” held on 21 November.
“Contrary to media reporting, no Australian Government official attended the Kunming China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation,” tweeted Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell.
China’s aid agency hosted a meeting on Indian Ocean Forum. Maldives’s former President Mohammed Waheed Hassan & Australia’s Former PM Kevin Rudd joined virtually. No representation at official capacity by Male, Canberra.
“Pleased @TimWattsMP attended #IORA Ministerial Council last week, the only ministerial-level forum for the Indian Ocean. Australia was delighted India’s application for Vice Chair was accepted by consensus. We share an enduring interest: a free, open, rules-based and secure Indo-Pacific,” added the Australian envoy.
While Canberra was invited for the meet by Beijing, Australia, a member of Quad (comprising Australia, Japan, India and the US) declined to participate in the China-led Indian Ocean Forum meet.
Earlier, the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday denied participating in the “China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation.”
“The Ministry would like to clarify, that the Government of Maldives did not participate in the above-mentioned Forum, and communicated its decision not to participate to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to the Maldives on 15 November 2022, read Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.
Notably, a joint press statement was released by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) alleging the participation of the Maldives in the “China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation”, held on 21 November 2022.
Furthermore, participation by individuals or groups of individuals from the Maldives does not constitute official representation by the Government of Maldives, read the statement.
In accordance with Article 115 (J) of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, only the serving President may determine, conduct and oversee the foreign policy of the country, and conduct political relations with foreign nations and international organizations. Official accreditation to meetings, forums and conferences to represent the Maldives, as per international practice, will only take place through diplomatic channels.
Therefore, for this specific meeting, there was no official representation by the Government of Maldives, added the statement.