Three days after India-Maldives agreed during the second high-level core group meeting in Delhi to find a “mutually workable solution”, President Mohamed Muizzu said the New Delhi will start withdrawing its troops operating the three maritime reconnaissance aircraft from March 10 and complete the process within two months.
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In his maiden address to Maldivian parliament in Male, Mohamed Muizzu said he wishes to transform the modest Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) into a modern military capable of patrolling its seas, hinting perhaps at complete delinking the security cooperation with the India. “I believe that the modern military capability to defend the country by road, sea and air should be strengthened in the Maldives,” President Muizzu said.
He also told his parliamentarians that he had conveyed to India that the 2019 agreement, signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Male, for jointly carrying out hydrographic surveying of the nation will not be extended. Alluding to India, the President also stated in his address that he was against giving “a foreign nation the power to measure and map the Maldivian oceans and coastlines”.
Around 80 Indian military personnel are stationed in the Maldives, mostly to operate aircrafts often deployed for medical evacuations and humanitarian missions.
Owing to the Chinese interest in Indo Ocean Region and Indo Pacific Region, Muizzu, however, has been egging India to take its surveillance maritime platforms out from the island nation, said defence experts.
After the second high core group meeting between the two nations on February 2, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement stating that “both sides also agreed on a set of mutually workable solutions to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medvac services to the people of Maldives”.
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It was agreed, the MEA had pointed out in its statement, to hold the next meeting of the High Level Core Group in Male’ on a mutually convenient date.
The Maldives had allowed Chinese research vessel, Xiang Yang Hong 03, a port call late last month after it had left southern China’s Sanya port, signalling growing unease in the relations between the nations. The island nation had also accused
It had also accused Indian Coast Guard of intimidating after onboarding Maldivian fishing vessels on January 31 who were operating in its EEZ. India, however, slashed assistance to ₹600 crore announced in the interim budget on February 1.