MALE: India and Maldives have “agreed to fast-track the withdrawal of Indian military personnel” from the island nation, according to Maldives’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first meeting of the High-Level Core Group between the Maldives and India took place in Male’ on Sunday.
“During the meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Maldives, both sides reviewed the existing bilateral cooperation. Discussions were held on a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including development cooperation,” the Maldives’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.
“Both sides expressed willingness to intensify cooperation and agreed to fast-track the withdrawal of Indian military personnel,” it also said. “It was agreed that the second meeting of the High-Level Core Group will be held at a mutually convenient time,” it added.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of External Affairs said that India and the Maldives discussed finding a mutually workable solution to continue the operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of the Maldives.
India and Maldives also discussed enhancing bilateral cooperation and expediting the implementation of ongoing projects. Maldives local media today also reported that Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has asked the Indian government to withdraw the Indian troops from the island nation before March 15.
Notably, the removal of Indian troops in the Maldives was the main campaign of Muizzu’s party. Currently, there are around 70 Indian troops, along with Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft and two HAL Dhruv helicopters, stationed in the Maldives.
On the second day of assuming office, Muizzu officially requested the Indian government to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives. In December last year, President Muizzu claimed that, after dialogue with the Indian government, an agreement was reached to withdraw Indian military personnel.