New Delhi: The scrapping of the GMR airport deal by the Maldives government was a legal issue, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Monday and hoped that the controversy would not be "allowed to be used" by fringe groups in that country to lead to deterioration in ties.
The Maldives government's scrapping a USD 500 million deal with Indian construction major GMR is "is an issue essentially legal in nature", Khurshid told reporters.
He also expressed hope "that this will not be used or allowed to be used by some fringe political groups that would lead to deterioration of relations between two, which we value immensely on both sides".
"And I am glad that matters seem to be proceeding along those lines.. and there will not be any misuse" of the controversy, he added.
Sources had said earlier that India is distressed at the way a commercial dispute was being used by some fringe elements and political parties in the Maldives to whip up anti-India sentiments.
The government of Maldives President Mohamed Waheed on Nov 27 terminated the contract with GMR, the single largest Indian FDI in the Maldives, awarded to the consortium for developing the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at Male.
GMIAL, which is a consortium of GMR and Malaysian airports operator MAHB, had won the right to operate and modernise the Male Airport in bidding conducted by IFC, an arm of the World Bank.
Khurshid, in his telephone talk last week with his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Samad Abdullah, had said that "legal processes involved in the GMR case should be permitted to take their own course based on the contractual obligations of the parties involved".
He had also made it clear to the minister that no arbitrary or coercive measure should be taken in the GMR case pending the outcome of the legal proceedings.
On Saturday, the Maldives government took over control of the Male international airport from GMR.
Last Thursday, a Singapore court of appeal had ruled that Maldives had the right to take back its airport. The deal had been signed in 2010 by ousted president Mohamed Nasheed.
Elections are scheduled to be held in the Maldives late next year, but there are indications that they could be held early next year.