Indian troops leave Maldives after push from ‘pro-China’ chief

(MENAFN) In a significant geopolitical development, the Maldives has seen the departure of dozens of Indian military personnel at the behest of President Mohamed Muizzu, signaling a recalibration of the island nation's foreign policy towards closer engagement with Beijing. Confirming the withdrawal, India acknowledged President Muizzu's directive earlier this year, setting May 10 as the deadline for the exit of Indian troops.

President Muizzu's decision to expel Indian military personnel was a central promise of his presidential campaign in 2023, reflecting his administration's intent to foster stronger ties with China. Upon assuming office, Muizzu promptly requested the withdrawal of approximately 80 Indian soldiers, primarily responsible for operating two Dornier aircraft and a helicopter provided by India for emergency evacuations. These military personnel are now being replaced by civilians.

India's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Randhir Jaiswal, affirmed that both countries are collaborating to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the aircraft. He noted that competent Indian technical personnel are being dispatched to the Maldives to take over from the departing soldiers.

Interestingly, the timing of the troop withdrawal coincided with Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer's inaugural visit to New Delhi, where discussions on bilateral relations took center stage. Minister Zameer expressed gratitude for India's support in enhancing economic, trade, and investment ties between the two nations. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar underscored the foundation of mutual interests and reciprocal sensitivity that underpins the evolving relationship between India and the Maldives.

The departure of Indian troops from the Maldives underscores the shifting geopolitical landscape in the Indian Ocean region, as the island nation seeks to diversify its strategic partnerships and assert its autonomy in foreign affairs. The move reflects President Muizzu's vision of charting an independent course for the Maldives, balancing relations with traditional allies like India while deepening engagement with emerging powers like China.



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