Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu on Saturday (Nov 18) formally requested India to withdraw troops from his country, fulfilling an election pledge on his first day in office. In a meeting with India’s Minister of Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju, President Muizzu asked New Delhi to recall its military personnel to operate three gifted aircraft patrolling the maritime territory.
“The President formally made the request when he met the Minister of Earth Sciences of India Kiren Rijiju, at the President’s Office earlier today,” a statement from Muizzu’s office said. The statement did not mention the timeline or the number of personnel to be withdrawn.
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. pic.twitter.com/nFa95QD9ES
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) November 18, 2023
Rijiju, who attended Muizzu’s inaugural ceremony on Friday, said in a post on X, “Privileged to call on President H.E. Dr. Mohamed Muizzu. Conveyed greetings from Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi and reiterated India’s commitment to further strengthen the substantive bilateral cooperation and robust people-to-people ties.”
Muizzu acknowledges contribution of Indian troops
According to sources, Muizzu (during his meeting with Rijiju) acknowledged the contribution of Indian military helicopters and aircraft for the medical evacuation of Maldivian citizens and appreciated their role in monitoring and combating drug trafficking.
The sources added that Male and New Delhi would discuss workable solutions for continued cooperation through the use of these platforms as this serves the interests of the people of Maldives.
Muizzu has said repeatedly that his country will not have the presence of military personnel of another country. “When it comes to our security, I will draw a red line. The Maldives will respect the red lines of other countries too,” the president said on Saturday.
Earlier this week, Muizzu told the news agency AFP that his intention was not to upend the regional balance by replacing the Indian military with Chinese troops.
In October, he said that he would work to return Indian military personnel “as soon as possible”, but also emphasised his commitment to stronger investment ties with both India and China to foster growth.
(With inputs from agencies)