Withdrawal of Indian soldiers from Maldives to begin in March

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India has agreed to begin this withdrawal on March 10 and complete it in two months, the ministry said. The Indian contingent, which includes medical personnel, enables the operation of three maritime reconnaissance aircraft, two helicopters, and an aircraft used for medical evacuations from distant islands scattered over a distance of 800 km along the equator. The two parties discussed their cooperation with the aim of strengthening their partnership in the areas of defense and security, the ministry explained. However, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ statement made no explicit mention of the withdrawal.

India and the Maldives have agreed on * “a series of mutually achievable solutions to allow the continuation of Indian aviation platforms providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the Maldivian population,” * the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said. New Delhi has long viewed the Indian Ocean archipelago as part of its sphere of influence, but since the last presidential election, which brought President Mohamed Muizzu to power in September, the Maldives have leaned towards China, their largest creditor. In parallel with the rapprochement with Beijing, tensions with New Delhi have erupted, after three ministers in the Muizzu government described Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a * “clown” * and * “terrorist” * in subsequently deleted social media posts. This scandal prompted Bollywood actors and Indian cricket stars to call on their compatriots to boycott the Maldives and choose a destination closer to India for their next vacation.

Tourism accounts for nearly a third of the Maldives’ economic income, with Indians forming the largest group of foreign visitors.

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