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Termination of GMR contract not to affect ties with Maldives: Government

Termination of GMR contract not to affect ties with Maldives: Government
New Delhi:  India today hoped that the termination of GMR's Male airport project by the Maldives government will not impact its relationship with the neighbouring country.

The remarks by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid came days after India had expressed unhappiness over the unilateral decision of the Maldivian government.

"Why should they (Maldives) have announced that they want Indians to come and invest. There is no problem but obviously when businessmen have to take a decision, they have to take everything into account," Mr Khurshid told Press Trust of India (PTI) on the sidelines of a function.

He said it was a legal matter and India did not want it to become a political issue.

"It was a legal issue. Finally, it has been decided by a court, what can one do," Mr Khurshid said. When pressed further on whether it will not affect the ties at all, he said, "It is our desire it shouldn't."

"Right from the beginning, we said we don't want this, what is essentially a legal issue, to become in any way a political issue with us. It is a legal issue, it has been decided under the law," Mr Khurshid said.

GMR was unceremoniously ousted from the airport project when the new Maldivian government abruptly terminated the contract on November 27 and was given time till December 7 to hand over airport operations to Maldives Airport Company Limited (MACL), taking India by surprise.

The MACL took over operations from GMR on Friday after the Singapore Supreme Court ruled that Maldives government has the authority to reclaim the airport from GMR.

In 2010, the GMR-led consortium won the right to build and operate the airport. The deal was signed during the regime of the previous government headed by Mohamed Nasheed. But after the regime change in February, GMR had been facing an uphill task.

The current government in Male headed by President Mohamed Waheed, which is under pressure from its coalition partners, says the contract was signed under "dubious" conditions and was "void", a charge hotly denied by the Indian firm.

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