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India to replace its military personnel in Maldives in phases by May 10; check details

The divergence in statements, however, emerges when it comes to the personnel operating and maintaining these platforms. While India's official statement mentions a consensus on "mutually workable solutions," the Maldives disclosed that India has committed to replacing its military personnel by specific deadlines.

India to replace its military personnel in Maldives in phases by May 10; check details AJR
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First Published Feb 3, 2024, 10:19 AM IST

In the latest development between India and the Maldives, discussions held during the second high-level core group meeting have led to an agreement on the continued presence of Indian aviation platforms in the Maldives. The Maldives confirmed that it will retain two naval helicopters and a Dornier aircraft, crucial for humanitarian and medical evacuation services.

The divergence in statements, however, emerges when it comes to the personnel operating and maintaining these platforms. While India's official statement mentions a consensus on "mutually workable solutions," the Maldives disclosed that India has committed to replacing its military personnel by specific deadlines. According to Male, one platform's personnel will be replaced by March 10, with the remaining two by May 10.

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This implies that India has acquiesced to the persistent demands of Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel. Notably, there is no clarity on who will replace the departing staff, with the Indian government not confirming whether it will involve Indian civilians, potentially including ex-servicemen.

President Muizzu has long maintained that any form of Indian military presence on Maldivian soil is detrimental to democracy in his country. He asserts that the withdrawal of Indian forces aligns with the democratic will of the Maldivian people. Despite these concerns, India is keen on the Maldives retaining the aviation platforms, which have played a crucial role in medical evacuations, saving over 500 lives in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

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The core group, established after President Muizzu's meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Dubai last year, aims to bolster collaboration in defense, security, trade, and development. While both sides continued discussions on bilateral cooperation during the recent meeting, the Indian government highlighted the need to expedite ongoing development cooperation projects. The next meeting of the core group is scheduled to take place in Male on a mutually convenient date.

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