Maldives, in Indian Ocean, signs a pact with Soviets

The Soviet Union and the remote Indian Ocean island republic of the Maldives signed a cultural and scientific agreement here Sunday. Under the agreement, the Soviet Union has offered to help improve the islands' communications, television, tourism, and radio engineering, a government announcement said.

Former Maldives President Ibrahim Nasir in 1977 rejected a Soviet offer of $1 million a year to lease the former British air base on Gan, in the southern Maldives, as a repair base for Soviet fishing fleets in the Indian Ocean.

Strategically important, Gan is less than 300 miles from the US Diego Garcia military base in the Indian Ocean.

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