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When the United States tried to seal a defense deal seven years ago with the Maldives, a sprawling and strategic archipelago, its plans were quietly torpedoed by a friend — India, which considers the Indian Ocean its sphere of influence.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit the Maldives this week after top-level talks in India — which offered open support when the Pentagon finally went ahead with a defense pact with the island nation in September.

What brought about the change, analysts say, is a deepening concern in New Delhi about China, which engaged in a deadly border clash with India this year and has been ramping up influence around South Asia, including in the Maldives.