COLOMBO (Reuters) - The Maldives said on Monday it was severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, following a coordinated move by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who accused the Gulf state of supporting terrorism.
“The Maldives took the decision because of its firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism,” the government of the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation said in a statement.
Gulf Arab states and Egypt have long resented Qatar’s support for Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood which they regard as a dangerous political enemy.
Despite its reputation as a tourist paradise, the largely Muslim Maldives is struggling with a large number of youths enlisting to fight for Islamic State in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had been due to visit the island chain of 400,000 people on a month-long tour of Asia this year, but postponed the trip due to an outbreak of flu there.
The Maldives government said in March a planned multi-billion dollar, Saudi-funded investment project on one of its atolls would focus on high-end tourism, and rejected opposition claims that the islands would be sold to the government of Saudi Arabia.
Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Alex Richardson