WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday recognized the new government of Maldives President Mohamed Waheed as legitimate and urged him to fulfill a pledge to form a national unity government.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also said Robert Blake, the top US diplomat for south Asia, telephoned former president Mohamed Nasheed to tell him Washington backed a "peaceful resolution" of the crisis on the archipelago.
"We do," Nuland told reporters when asked if Washington recognizes the new government as the legitimate government of the Maldives. She called Waheed the president and Nasheed the former president.
Blake, the assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs, will travel Saturday to the Maldives to meet with both Waheed and Nasheed, who charges he was ousted in a coup, as well as civil society.
"He will be encouraging this national unity conversation," she added.
"Blake spoke this morning to former president Nasheed, conveying assurances that the United States supports a peaceful resolution of this," Nuland said.
Blake assured Nasheed who is facing arrest "that we are also expressing our views to the government that his security should be protected," Nuland said.
Unrest has spread to the far corners of the nation of more than 1,000 islands, as Waheed struggles to maintain order.
Nasheed, the Indian Ocean country's first democratically elected president who has hunkered down at his modest family home in the capital Male since losing the presidency on Tuesday, has appealed for urgent foreign help.
The United States is "also encouraging him, as we encouraged President Waheed that this needs to settled now peaceably through dialogue and through the formation, as the new president has pledged, of a national unity government," Nuland said.
A judge issued an arrest warrant Thursday for the ex-president, who says he was forced from office in a coup, as troops deployed to restore order after a night described by a presidential aide as "anarchy."
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