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Maldives government: Maldives government says it will not reveal agreement with India about troop repatriation: Report

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The Maldives government has said it will not reveal the details of the agreement it signed with India for replacing the 88 Indian military personnel stationed in the archipelago nation, a media report said here on Wednesday. The first batch of approximately 25 Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives manning a helicopter gifted by India departed from the island nation after handing over the operations of the chopper to an Indian civilian crew as agreed ahead of the March 10 deadline, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) announced on March 11.

After a high-level meeting in New Delhi on February 2 between the two sides, the Maldivian foreign ministry said India would replace its military personnel operating the three aviation platforms in the Maldives by May 10 and the first phase of the process would be completed by March 10.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, seen as a pro-China leader, has affirmed that no Indian military personnel, not even those in civilian clothing, would be present in his country after May 10.

Muizzu has maintained that the agreement that was signed with the Indian government in consensus of troops’ repatriation (and) the procedures to remove the Indian troops are progressing under this agreement, news portal Edition.mv reported.

Edition.mv’s quoted its sister concern, Mihaaru News, which had reached out to the Foreign Ministry, requesting information on the agreement reached between the two countries under the Right to Information Act.

“However, the Ministry’s response had stated that they are unable to disclose a copy of the agreement and maintained that this is done in conformity with Article 29 of the Right to Information Act,” the portal said. The Ministry’s response was delivered last Sunday, it said. Former Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration had also withheld information on the defence agreements signed with India, insisting the main reason for this was the fear of threatening national security with disclosure, the news portal said. It also noted that Muizzu had pledged to divulge this information during his tenure.

Muizzu rode to power last year on an anti-India stance and defeated Solih in the presidential election. And within hours of taking the oath, he asked India to remove its military personnel from the strategically located archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean.

Earlier in February, the first batch of 26 Indian civilian personnel arrived here to replace the Indian military personnel operating a helicopter in Addu city. India also sent a new helicopter and transported the old helicopter used in Addu city for repairs.

The Maldives’ proximity to India, barely 70 nautical miles from the island of Minicoy in Lakshadweep and 300 nautical miles from the mainland’s western coast, and its location at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) gives it significant strategic importance.

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