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India seeks retaining soldiers in the Maldives

Mohamed Rehan
06 December 2023, MVT 10:24
The helicopter operated by Indian soldiers in the Maldives-- Photo: Mihaaru
Mohamed Rehan
06 December 2023, MVT 10:24

An Indian media, corroborating some of its senior officials, have reported that the country would be seeking to retain the helicopters and Dornier aircraft, and its personnel to operate them in the Maldives.

The governments of India and Maldives already agreed to form a core group to address President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu's pledge for the withdrawal of Indian soldiers from the Maldives. The President had included the initiative in the roadmap of his first 100-day objectives.

President Muizzu met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the sidelines of the COP28 summit for discussions. Following the discussions, President Muizzu announced that the Indian government has agreed to honor the agreement and respect the Maldivian citizens' wish to have Indian soldiers withdrawn.

Despite President Muizzu's earlier declaration, the only official statement from India on the matter is that discussions between the two countries are underway.

In addition, most of the senior officials who spoke with Indian media reported that the Maldivian government understood the importance of retaining the helicopters and Dornier aircraft for operations in the country. They acknowledged that these assets were a symbol of the mutual partnership between the two countries.

Furthermore, the External Affairs Minister of India deflected questions on whether the Indian government had agreed to withdraw soldiers from the Maldives.

"Deccan Herald" reported that senior Indian officials refrained from making any formal statements about the discussions, emphasizing that the leaders had a private discussion. However, the officials noted that India's focus in the discussions would be on retaining its air vessels and soldiers in the Maldives.

Details on the matter have not been disclosed at this time.

The government has stated that its current findings reveal the presence of 77 Indian soldiers in the Maldives, all of whom are designated personnel responsible for operating and maintaining the helicopters and aircraft.

The current administration had initiated a strong "India Out" campaign when they were the main opposition party. The former government had taken strict action against the movement.

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