India withdraws all military personnel from Maldives: Presidential Spokesperson

NewsDrum Desk
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Male, May 10 (PTI) The last batch of Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives have been repatriated, the government of President Mohamed Muizzu has said, a day ahead of the May 10 deadline set by him for their complete withdrawal from the archipelagic country.

The relations between India and the Maldives came under severe strain after Muizzu, seen as a pro-China leader, insisted on the withdrawal of Indian military personnel operating three military platforms in the country by May 10.

Repatriation of some 90 Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives was a key pledge of Muizzu during his presidential campaign last year.

The first batch of Indian military personnel was withdrawn from Maldives in early March, followed by the departure of the second batch in April, totalling 51 soldiers.

Although all Indian military personnel have withdrawn from the country, Male has not provided the final count, the media here reported.

The last batch of Indian soldiers stationed in the Maldives have been repatriated, Heena Waleed, President's Office Chief Spokesperson told news portal on Thursday.

The Indian military personnel were stationed in the Maldives to operate and maintain two helicopters and Dornier aircraft India gifted earlier.

During their tenure here, they contributed to infrastructure maintenance, leveraging helicopters and other resources generously provided by the Indian administration to the Maldives, the state-run PSM News channel reported.

On Monday the Maldives government announced that 51 of these soldiers were repatriated to India in two batches. The government earlier announced the presence of 89 Indian soldiers in the Maldives, citing official documents.

India and the Maldives had agreed to withdraw the remaining Indian troops before May 10 following four round of meetings of the India-Maldives High Level Core Group. The last meeting was held in New Delhi on May 3.

At a media briefing in New Delhi on Thursday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said the first and the second batches of the Indian personnel returned to India and "now deputation of competent Indian technical personnel has taken place" to operate the three Indian aviation platforms.

The withdrawal of the Indian military personnel came as Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer visited India. He met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday. Jaishankar conveyed to Zameer that the development of India-Maldives ties is based on "mutual interests" and "reciprocal sensitivity".

Ahead of his first official visit to India, Zameer expressed gratitude to the Government of India for its full support in withdrawing Indian troops from the country, following the request of the Maldives government.

"This initiative proves the strong relations between the two countries and ensures that any such issue faced by both countries can be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy," Minister Zameer told Mihaaru News.

The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region 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 Modi government. PTI NSA AKJ AKJ