Defense Ministry reiterates sole authority over UTF

The Defense Ministry has stated that exclusive authority over the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) rests with only the authority of the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), and that no other entity has control over the area.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that while the development of the UTF is ongoing, MNDF personnel and employees of the Indian company developing UTF are based there. The government has given the name 'Ekatha' to the harbor being developed at UTF.

The harbor is developed under the free assistance of the Government of India and will be used for the construction, repair, and maintenance of MNDF Coast Guard vessels.

The statement highlighted that the project was first discussed with the Indian government in 2013 during an official visit of the then-Maldivian Defense Minister to India. Subsequently, in 2016, the government of President Abdullah Yameen signed an Action Plan on Defense Cooperation between the Maldives and India to implement a major military project in the lagoon. The current government decided to reduce the project's scope and build a harbor and dockyard specifically for Coast Guard vessel operations, the statement further read.

The Defense Ministry confirmed that there are no foreign military personnel from any nation within the Maldives for military purposes. Senior MNDF officials have corroborated this information in an interview with state media, reaffirming the absence of foreign troops in the Maldives.