COLOMBO, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The United States has dismissed claims of seeking a permanent military base in the Maldives after President Abdulla Yameen last week saying that Maldives will not pursue a State of Forces Agreement (SOFA) proposed by the U.S.
"The U.S. has not and is not considering a permanent military presence in the Maldives. We continue to share a close bilateral defense relationship on areas of mutual interest," Pentagon spokesperson Lt Col Jeffery Pool said, according to the SunOnLine, local media in Maldives.
Speaking to reporters during a state visit to Sri Lanka last week, President Yameen said: "There have been discussions before, we are not going to pursue it."
Minister at the President's Office Mohamed Shareef later said the decision was made over fears that the agreement would upset India. "We have told them that we can't do it because both India and Sri Lanka are also not happy with it," Shareef said.
In June last year, a local online blog released scans of a document claiming to be a draft copy of a Status of Forces Agreement to be signed by Maldives and the United States. The agreement alleged to allow the U.S. to establish military bases in the Maldives.
Defense Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim promptly refuted the claims.
"SOFA is an agreement that allows U.S. military trainings to be conducted in different countries. It does not involve establishing a base. They have not proposed to establish a base, and the government has not decided on the SOFA agreement," said the minister last year.