New Delhi, Nov 18 (PTI) India and Maldives on Saturday agreed to discuss “practical solutions” to the continued use of Indian military platforms by the island nation as such cooperation suits the interests of the people of Maldives. Sources said this after the meeting between Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and Maldives’ new President Mohammed Muizzu in Male.
Rijiju met Muizzu at his office, a day after attending the Maldivian leader’s swearing-in ceremony. Muizzu is widely seen as a pro-China leader.
A statement issued by Muizzu’s office said the President “formally requested the Government of India to withdraw its military personnel from Maldives” at the meeting.
Muizzu said he would keep his election promise of expelling Indian military personnel from the country.
“At the meeting, President Muizzu formally requested the Indian government to withdraw its military personnel from Maldives,” the statement said.
“The President said that the people of the Maldives had given him a strong mandate in the Presidential elections held in September to request India in this regard and expressed the hope that India would respect the democratic will of the people of the Maldives,” it said.
Indian government sources said that in the meeting, Muizzu raised the issue of presence of Indian military personnel deployed in Maldives to transport patients in medical condition and for air operations to curb drug smuggling. He said the President acknowledged the contribution of Indian helicopters and aircraft for the medical evacuation of Maldivian citizens.
“It was agreed that both governments will discuss practical solutions for continued cooperation through the use of these platforms as it serves the interests of the people of Maldives,” the statement said.
Incidentally, a Dornier aircraft provided by India to Maldives was used on Saturday to airlift a 36-year-old woman to hospital for treatment. The aircraft are being operated by the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).
Language Prashant Netrapal