Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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Maldives formally asks India to withdraw its military presence

The Maldives government has formally requested India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives, a press release issued from the Maldives President’s office said. The Indian side said both countries will try to find a”workable solution”. President Dr Mohamed Muizzu formally made the request when he met the Minister of Earth Sciences of India, H.E. Mr Kiren Rijiju, at the President’s Office earlier today,” the release said. Union minister Kiren Rijiju represented India at the inauguration of the Maldives’ new leader which was a significant downgrade from the previous occasions where the prime minister was present.

Mohamed Muizzu, the newly elected president of Maldives speaks during his inauguration ceremony in Male, Maldives November 17.(REUTERS)

Before being elected, Muizzu made it clear that his top priority would be to remove the presence of the Indian military as soon as possible.

As Muizzu took oath on Friday, he reiterated that he was firmly committed to ensuring that Maldives remains “free” of any “foreign military presence” to preserve its independence and sovereignty.

45-year-old Muizzu, perceived as a pro-China politician, is the eighth president of the Maldives. The ministry of external affairs recently commented on India-Maldives cooperation and said India looks forward to continuing with the cooperation and partnership with Maldives.

“Our cooperation with Maldives is based on jointly addressing shared challenges and priorities. The assistance and platforms that we have provided have contributed significantly in areas like people’s welfare, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and combating illegal maritime activities. Over the last five years, more than 500 medical evacuations have been carried out by our personnel, saving 523 Maldivian lives. Of these, 131 evacuations were carried out this year, another 140 last year, and a further 109 in 2021. Similarly, during the last five years, more than 450 multifaceted missions have been carried out to safeguard the maritime security of Maldives. Of these, 122 missions were carried out last year, while the 152 and 124 missions were undertaken in 2021 and 2020 respectively. India has also been the first responder for Maldives in any disaster scenario, including most recently during COVID,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said last month.

As Kiren Rijiju met the new Maldivian President, he reiterated India’s commitment to further strengthen substantive bilateral cooperation. “Privileged to call on President H.E. Dr. Mohamed Muizzu. Conveyed greetings from Hon’ble PM @NarendraModi and reiterated India’s commitment to further strengthen the substantive bilateral cooperation and robust people-to-people ties,” Rijiju posted on X after the meeting.

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