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india maldives ties: Second batch of Indian military personnel leave Maldives: President Muizzu

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The second group of Indian military personnel operating a helicopter has left the Maldives on April 9 under a bilateral agreement with India, President Mohamed Muizzu has announced. Muizzu announced this on Friday while speaking during a campaign event for ruling party candidates ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for later this month.

“The first team has already gone. Now, on April 9, the soldiers on the second platform have also been withdrawn,” Muizzu was quoted as saying by the local media.

The agreement between Maldives and India is to replace the Indian military personnel stationed in Maldives to oversee the operations of the military aircraft the country has gifted with trained civilians also from India.

Muizzu, a pro-China leader, added that the Indian soldiers on the last platform would also leave the Maldives before May 10 and that would mark the fulfillment of his pledge to remove Indian soldiers from the island nation.

“There is only one platform left. As the two countries have already signed, they [the remaining Indian military personnel] will also be recalled ahead of May 10. They will leave,” Muizzu was quoted as saying by Edition.mv news portal.

“So that pledge is fulfilled, isn’t it? All foreign military here will leave before May 10. So any pledge I make, I will work to fulfil to the greatest extent.” He did not provide any details and did not clarify whether the soldiers had been replaced by Indian civilians. Neither the Maldives Defense Ministry nor India have commented on the latest withdrawal of Indian military personnel from this country. According to the Maldives government, 88 Indian soldiers were stationed in the Maldives to operate helicopters in Addu and Laamu Kadhdhoo and a Dornier aircraft in Hanimaadhoo. The figure also includes doctors at the Senahiya military hospital.

The first group of Indian soldiers left the Maldives on March 11. The Defence Ministry said 26 soldiers based in Addu were replaced by 26 Indian civilians. India also replaced the old helicopter in Addu with a new one.

Relations between Maldives and India have deteriorated since Muizzu came to power in November last year while closer ties are maintained with China. He also travelled to China in January and met top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping.

China and the Maldives recently signed a defence cooperation agreement and several other infrastructure development projects.

The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in its initiatives like ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ of the Narendra Modi government.

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