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Last Indian Soldiers Leave Maldives Ahead Of May 10 Deadline

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, had set May 10 as the deadline for the withdrawal of the Indian military personnel from his country.

AP
Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu Meets PM Modi At COP28 in UAE | Photo: AP
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India has withdrawn all its soldiers from the Maldives, meeting a deadline set by President Mohamed Muizzu for the complete withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the island nation.

The last batch of Indian soldiers stationed in the Maldives has been repatriated, confirmed Heena Waleed, news agency PTI quoted the President’s Office Chief Spokesperson as saying to Sun.mv news portal.

The move marks the end of India's military presence in the Maldives, which had been a key pledge of President Muizzu during his presidential campaign in 2023. One of Muizzu's first acts was to demand the withdrawal of around 80 Indian military personnel by May 10 - they had been stationed there to operate two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft.

The relations between the two countries came under severe strain after Muizzu insisted on the withdrawal.

The latest  development came as Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer visited India. He met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday. They had "extensive discussions" on bilateral ties and regional security issues.

India and the Maldives have traditionally enjoyed strong ties, with India providing essential supplies such as rice, vegetables, medicines, and humanitarian assistance to the island nation. However, President Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, has been critical of India's influence in the Maldives.

President Muizzu has promised to cultivate "strong ties" with China, similar to his ally Abdulla Yameen, who forged close ties with Beijing during his presidency from 2013 to 2018. During the election campaign, Muizzu indicated the withdrawal of Indian military troops and asserted his commitment to ensuring the Maldives remains "free" of any "foreign military presence" to preserve its independence and sovereignty.

China has been increasingly active in the Maldives, investing in infrastructure projects and providing financial assistance to the government. The Maldives owes China $1.37 billion, or around 20% of its public debt, according to World Bank data.

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