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Past administrations had renewed Indian helicopter deal: Foreign Ministry

Ahmed Aiham
16 December 2018, MVT 14:32
The Indian gifted Helicopter landed in Usfasgandu Helipad area in Male', following an operation to airlift a patient in serious condition from Bandidhoo, Dhaalu Atoll. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
16 December 2018, MVT 14:32

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Saturday, revealed that the past two administrations had renewed the agreement involving the two Indian helicopters that are operated in Maldives.

The Ministry stated that the initial agreement for the first helicopter was signed in 2010, by former President Mohamed Naheed, and renewed in 2012 and 2014 during former President Dr. Mohamed Waheed and former President Abdul Yameen Abdul Gayoom's rule.

As per the Ministry, recently defeated Yameen signed the agreement for the second helicopter in 2015.

The two helicopters, which were gifted to the Maldives in 2010 and 2011, are based in Seenu Atoll's Gan and Laamu Atoll’s Kahdhoo respectively. Under the agreement between India and Maldives, the Indian military would handle operations until Maldivian soldiers could be properly trained.

However, no steps have yet been taken to train any officers of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to operate the helicopters.

The Ministry stated that the collaboration between military and security forces of the two countries is an integral pillar for bilateral ties.

Joint military exercises, training programmes and regional ocean monitoring operations have been conducted in the past.

Amidst souring ties between India and Maldives during Yameen's administration, the former President decided to return the two helicopters to India.

During Yameen's rule, the Maldivian Ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed, declared that Maldivian facilities have improved to the point that the two naval helicopters, primarily used to airlift medical patients, have become obsolete.

According to the Ministry, the two helicopters have been utilized to airlift 151 patients and 50 search and rescue operations.

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