Maldives has traditionally sought to maintain a status independent of the great powers while simultaneously preserving cordial relations with all members of the world community. The purposes of this stance are to receive additional aid and to keep the Indian Ocean area at peace. An instance of Maldives' nonalignment was its refusal of a Soviet offer of US$1 million in October 1977 as rental for the former British air base on Gan, which Britain evacuated in 1976. Historically, Maldives has had close relations with Britain, its former colonial power, and has been a full member of the British Commonwealth since 1985.
Maldives participates in a variety of international organizations. It joined the UN in 1965 and the World Bank and the IMF in 1978. In connection with its concern over the security of the Indian Ocean area, Maldives became a founder of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) in 1985--it has been a member of the Colombo Plan designed to promote economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific since 1963. In 1990 the fifth SAARC annual conference was held in Male. Maldives is also a member of the Asian Development Bank.
Although a Muslim nation, Maldives has remained apart from most of the problems associated with the Islamist (also seen as fundamentalist) movement in the Middle East. Maldives falls within India's sphere of influence and in 1976 signed an agreement demarcating the maritime boundary between the two countries. It has also received military assistance from India, such as the sending of 1,600 military personnel in 1988 at President Gayoom's request to repel a group of invading mercenaries.
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