New Delhi-Male officials discuss deployment of Indian personnel for aviation platforms during high-level core group meeting

A file picture of Indian PM Narendra Modi meeting Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu.
A file picture of Indian PM Narendra Modi meeting Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu. Photo Courtesy: PIB

India and Maldives officials on Sunday reviewed the ongoing process of replacing Indian military personnel from the island nation.

The issue was discussed during the third meeting of the India-Maldives High Level Core Group in Male.

“During the meeting, both sides reviewed the ongoing deputation of Indian technical personnel to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medvac services to the people of Maldives,” read a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Both nations discussed wide-ranging issues related to bilateral cooperation.

“This inter alia, included expediting the implementation of ongoing development cooperation projects through regular convening of joint monitoring mechanisms, efforts to boost bilateral trade & investment and enhancing people-to-people linkages through capacity building and travel,” the statement said.

Both countries agreed to hold the next meeting of the High-Level Core Group in New Delhi on a ‘mutually convenient date’.;;

Meanwhile, continuing his anti-India stance, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has said no Indian military personnel, not even those in civilian clothing, will remain in his nation after the May 10 deadline.

Addressing the residential community of Baa atoll Eydhafushi during his tour across the atoll, the President stated that due to this government’s success in expelling Indian troops from the country, people who spread false rumours are attempting to twist the situation, reported The Edition.

“That these people [Indian military] are not departing, that they are returning after changing their uniforms into civilian clothing. We must not indulge such thoughts that instill doubts in our hearts and spread lies,” he said.

“There will be no Indian troops in the country come May 10. Not in uniform and not in civilian clothing. [The] Indian military will not be residing in this country in any form of clothing. I state this with confidence,” the President said amid the deteriorating relationship with India in recent days.

While the first troops to depart the country are the Indian military personnel operating helicopters in Addu City, the military personnel present in Haa Dhaalu atoll Hanimaadhoo and Laamu atoll Kahdhoo are also expected to leave ahead of May 10, reported The Edition.

Currently, there are approximately 80 Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives, media reports said.

The President came to power last year by riding on his anti-Indian stance.

Recent controversy

Recently, Indians have expressed anger against Maldivian authorities on social media after its Minister Mariyam Shiuna’s disparaging comments on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “clown” and “puppet” in posts on X, which have since been deleted.

These tweets were removed following criticism and backlash on the micro-blogging site.

Other Maldivian officials, including another minister named Zahid Rameez, also mocked Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep after the photos garnered significant attention on social media as many drew comparisons between Modi’s visit and the Maldives.

Closeness to China

Amid a strained relationship with India, the Maldivian government has signed a military agreement with China.

Maldives Military of Defence posted on X: “Minister of Defence @mgmaumoon and Major General Zhang Baoqun, Deputy Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of the People’s Republic of China, signed an agreement on China’s provision of military assistance gratis to the Republic of Maldives, fostering stronger bilateral ties.”

Details of the agreement are still not known.