UTF agreement shared with 241 committee

Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has shared with the Parliament's Security Services Committee, the agreement between MNDF and Indian military to develop Uthuru Thilafalhu (UTF) military base.

Committee members have confirmed to AVAS that the document was shared with the committee. The agreement was unveiled to the committee by Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi, Chief of Defense Force Abdulla Shamail and Vice Chief of Defense Force Abdul Raheem Abdul Latheef at a committee meeting on Sunday.

The Chair of the committee, North Hithadhoo MP Mohamed Aslam said the committee was given the opportunity to read through the original UTF agreement. The agreement did not contain any clauses that could threaten national security, he said.

'We got the chance to thoroughly read through the agreement for as long as we wanted. It did not contain any clauses that may threaten national security,' Aslam said.

Aslam said the Defense Cooperation agreement signed between Maldives and India during former President Abdulla Yamin Abdul Gayyoom's administration in 2016 was also reviewed by the committee. He said that the committee will be reviewing the Hydrography agreement and Dornier aircraft agreement with India in the coming days.

Speaking at the committee, Defense Minister Mariya said the UTF agreement, under which a dockyard and harbor will be developed in UTF, was signed after bringing significant changes to the original plans by the former administration.

'The action plan had points such as allowing the Indian Navy to make use of UTF for operational use. However, we narrowed it such that it can only be used for support and intelligence use,' the minister said.

MNDF officials who attended Sunday's committee session presented a detailed presentation on the UTF agreement. The session was broadcast live for the most part, with the transmission cut for only a short while.

The UTF agreement is being assessed by the Security Services Committee in response to a request by committee member and Maduvvary MP Adam Shareef. He was the Defense Minister of the former administration.