After Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu formally requested India to withdraw its military presence from his country, the two nations agreed to discuss "workable solutions" to continue the use of Indian military platforms by the island nation.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju met new Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu in Male on Saturday after which Muizzu "formally requested the government of India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives".
Muizzu is widely seen as a pro-China leader and his campaign promise included the withdrawal of the Indian military personnel from his country. Muizzu had said that he would keep his election promise.
The statement from the President's office noted that the "Maldivian people had given him a strong mandate to make the request to India and expressed the hope that India will honour the democratic will of the people of the Maldives."
However, PTI quoting Indian government sources said Muizzu brought up the issue of Indian military personnel present in the Maldives for operating aircraft for medical evacuation and to counter drug trafficking. He also acknowledged the contribution of the Indian helicopters and aircraft for the medical evacuation of Maldivian citizens. "They are also central to the confidence that international tourists have in staying in remote islands. He appreciated their role in monitoring and combating drug trafficking," said a source.
"It was agreed that the two governments would discuss workable solutions for continued cooperation through the use of these platforms as this serves the interests of the people of the Maldives," it said.
Privileged to call on President H.E. Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) November 18, 2023
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. pic.twitter.com/nFa95QD9ES
Muizzu also acknowledged the "significant role of the two helicopters in providing numerous emergency medical evacuations" Besides the choppers, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit last May, had handed over a fast patrol vessel and a landing craft to the island nation.
Despite the requests, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), however, took to X to state that a Dornier aircraft provided by India was used for the medical evacuation of a woman in critical condition from one of the archipelago’s many atolls to the capital.
Meanwhile, Rijiju also met with the Indian community members in Maldives, acknowledging their significant contributions to nurturing the strong ties between India and Maldives.
He also took to X to thank the Indians. "Delighted to interact with vibrant & committed Indian Community in Maldives. Commended their significant contributions in nurturing India-Maldives ties. Assured them of the continued commitment of @mygovindia for their welfare and wellbeing."