Mumbai: After the second meeting of the India-Maldives High-Level Core Group, the Maldives government said that both sides agreed that India will replace troops at 3 aviation platforms in the island nation by May 10.
“During the meeting, both sides continued their 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,” according to a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.
“Both sides also agreed on a set of mutually workable solutions to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medevac services (medical evacuation) to the people of Maldives,” the Ministry said in a statement.
India has deployed approximately 80 people, including medical professionals, to operate three aircraft to patrol the archipelago’s wide marine region.
“Both sides agreed that the Government of India will replace military personnel in one of the three aviation platforms by March 10 and complete the replacement of military personnel in the other two platforms by May 10,” the Maldivian foreign ministry said in a statement today following the meeting.
The core group was formed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Muizzu met on the margins of the COP28 session in Dubai in December.
Mohamed Muizzu, the Maldivian president, took power in November after promising to remove Indian forces.
New Delhi believes the Indian Ocean archipelago to be inside its sphere of influence, but the Maldives have slipped into the orbit of China, its largest external creditor.
Upon returning from his first state visit to China in January, the President instructed India to withdraw its soldiers by March 15.