Amid growing tilt towards China, Maldives has skipped a key Indian Ocean security meeting held in Mauritius

The sixth meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave, founded by India, Maldives and Sri Lanka in 2011, was held at the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius on Thursday.

The grouping comprises of India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and the Maldives.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval represented India at the sixth meeting of senior security officials of the Colombo Security Conclave in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Besides Doval’s counterparts from Sri Lanka and Mauritius, the meeting was joined by senior officials from Bangladesh and Seychelles.

In a post on X, the Indian High Commission in Mauritius said that the meeting was attended by National Security Advisers of India, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, as well as delegates from Seychelles and Bangladesh.

However, the Maldives, which is one of the founding member of the conclave, skipped the meeting.

The development occurred on the same day when Maldives Vice President Hussain Mohamed Latheef was in China for the meeting of 'China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation,' organised by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), WION reported.

Last year, Maldives skipped the China forum on the Indian Ocean, with no official representation from the Maldivian government.

This comes as the new 'pro-China' president of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, has last month formally urged India to withdraw its troops from the country during a meeting with Minister Kiren Rijiju, fulfilling one his most prominent election promises on his first day in office.

The new leadership in Maldives is actively reaching out to countries such as Turkey and China, possibly signalling a shift in its diplomatic ties, including those with India.

Muizzu's party, which has Former President Abdulla Yameen as its preeminent leader, had run a campaign, labeled 'India Out', to remove Indian military personnel from the country if elected to power.

During his presidency from 2013 to 2018, Yameen drew criticism for aligning the Maldives excessively with China, resulting in strained relations with India. Experts believe that, with Yameen exerting considerable influence on policy behind the scenes, the country is likely to tilt further towards China.