The Government of India, on Sunday, has agreed to expedite the withdrawal of Indian military personnel based in the Maldives under various military agreements.
The first meeting of the High-Level Core Group between Maldives and India took place at the Maldivian Foreign Ministry in Male’ on Sunday. Participants of the meeting included the Indian Ambassador to the Maldives Munu Mahawar.
Commenting on the meeting, the Maldivian Foreign Ministry said both sides discussed agreements executed between both nations and a wide range of issues of mutual interest including the development of cooperation.
“Both sides expressed willingness to intensify cooperation and agreed to fast-track the withdrawal of Indian military personnel,” the Foreign Ministry added.
As per the Foreign Ministry, a second meeting of the High-Level Core Group will be held at a mutually convenient date and time.
The High-Level Core Group was formed following a meeting between Maldivian President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of COP28.
In a press briefing on Sunday afternoon, Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim, the public policy secretary at the President’s Office, said that President Muizzu has formally asked India to withdraw its military personnel by March 15.
According to the latest government figures, there are 88 Indian military personnel in Maldives.
President Muizzu had built his presidential campaign on the promise of expelling Indian military personnel from the Maldives, and had made a formal request to India to withdraw its military personnel soon after assuming to office.
Speaking to press on Saturday, after he returned to the Maldives after a five-day state visit to China, President Muizzu indirectly attacked India.
Without naming any country, he said, “We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the license to bully us.”
He also announced plans to reduce the country’s dependency on India, including securing imports of essential food commodities and medicine and consumables from other countries.
He said that no country has the right to exert influence over the domestic affairs of a country, regardless of its size.
He vowed that he will not allow any external influence on the domestic affairs of the Maldives.