February 9, 2024
NEW DELHI – Indian military personnel stationed in Maldives will be replaced by competent Indian technical personnel, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said at a weekly press conference on Thursday.
“I would like to say that the present personnel will be replaced by competent Indian technical personnel,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said.
After pro-China Mohamed Muizzu came to power, Maldives has asked India to withdraw it’s military personnel from the archipelagic state by March 15.
On February 2, a high-level core group formed by the two countries to finalise the troops withdrawal had met for the second time and agreed to find a “mutually workable solutions” for operating the three aircraft – ALH helicopters and a Dornier aircraft.
While India has not announced any deadline, the Maldivian foreign ministry said that military personnel operating one of the three aircraft will be replaced by March 10 and the entire process will be completed by May 10.
Earlier in January, Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim, the public policy secretary at the Maldivian President’s Office had said, “Indian military personnel cannot stay in the Maldives. This is the policy of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu and that of this administration.”
Soon after being elected as the president, Muizzu had asked India to withdraw it’s troops from the archipelagic state.
The development comes in the backdrop of a diplomatic row between India and Maldive over derogatory remarks against PM Modi by some of Muizzu government’s ministers.
It also came just days after Muizzu returned from China. The new Maldivian president is perceived to be pro-China.