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Maldives seeks withdrawal of Indian military personnel by March 15

02:09 AM Jan 15, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
maldives seeks withdrawal of indian military personnel by march 15
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New Delhi, Jan 14: In a press briefing held on Sunday afternoon, Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim, the Public Policy Secretary at the President’s Office, announced that President Muizzu has formally urged India to withdraw its military personnel from Maldives by March 15, Maldivian media reported.

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Maldivian Government figures reveal that there are currently 88 Indian military personnel stationed in Maldives. To facilitate the withdrawal process, both countries have established a high-level core group, which convened for its inaugural meeting at the Foreign Ministry Headquarters in Male’ on Sunday morning. The meeting, attended by Indian High Commissioner Munu Mahawar, focused on the request for troop withdrawal by the specified date.

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Nazim confirmed the meeting and anticipates its continuation well into the evening. He emphasised President Muizzu’s policy, stating, “Indian military personnel cannot stay in the Maldives. This is the policy of President Dr Mohamed Muizzu and that of this administration.”

President Muizzu, who based his presidential campaign on the commitment to expel Indian military personnel from the Maldives, formally made the withdrawal request shortly after assuming office.

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In a press statement on Saturday, following his return from a five-day state visit to China, President Muizzu indirectly criticized India, stating, “We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the license to bully us.”

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Without explicitly naming India, he outlined plans to reduce the Maldives’ dependency on its neighbouring country, including securing imports of essential commodities from alternative sources. Addressing reporters at Velana International Airport, he asserted the country’s independence, declaring, “We aren’t in anyone’s backyard. We are an independent and sovereign state.”

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While New Delhi issued an official press release that read, “The first meeting of the India-Maldives High Level Core Group was held in Male today. During the meeting, both sides held discussions on wide ranging issues related to bilateral cooperation towards identifying steps to enhance the partnership, including expediting the implementation of ongoing development cooperation projects. Both sides also held discussions on finding mutually workable solution to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medvac services to the people of Maldives. It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the High Level Core Group in India on a mutually convenient date.”

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