President of Maldives Asserts India’s Exit, Welcomes Closer Defence Ties with China

Major General Zhang Baoqun, Deputy Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of the People’s Republic of China, engaged in comprehensive discussions with President Muizzu at the President’s Office

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Deputy Director of China’s Office for International Military Cooperation Major General Zhang Baoqun paid a courtesy call on Maldivian President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu on March 5, 2024. (Photo/President's Office)

In a significant diplomatic move, President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu of the Maldives reiterated his commitment to expelling Indian military personnel from the country, affirming that there would be no presence of Indian troops, regardless of attire, after May 10. Concurrently, the President welcomed closer defence cooperation with China, marking a shift in the island nation’s strategic partnerships.

Major General Zhang Baoqun, Deputy Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of the People’s Republic of China, engaged in comprehensive discussions with President Muizzu at the President’s Office, expressing mutual enthusiasm for future collaborations and partnerships.

President Muizzu’s declaration came amidst ongoing discussions with China aimed at enhancing defence cooperation, signaling a departure from the Maldives’ historical reliance on neighboring nations for security matters. While Maldives has primarily engaged with China in infrastructural development and trade, the recent agreement with China for military aid marks a significant shift in bilateral relations.

The President’s announcement follows a prior commitment made during a high-level meeting in Delhi, where it was agreed that Indian military personnel would be replaced by civilians by May 10, with the initial phase expected to conclude by March 10. President Muizzu, who assumed office with an anti-India stance, reiterated his demand for the removal of Indian personnel during his first address to Parliament, emphasizing the need to assert Maldives’ sovereignty.

As part of the withdrawal process, the first Indian military personnel expected to depart are those operating helicopters in Addu City, with others stationed in various atolls also anticipated to leave before the May 10 deadline. India had agreed to withdraw its troops under the condition that civilians, equivalent to the military presence, would operate the aircraft.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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