India has agreed to withdraw its troops from the Maldives, according to a statement from Maldives President Muizu. The president, who was elected in September, had promised the withdrawal of Indian troops as part of his campaign platform.
In a statement, President Muizu assured that the withdrawal of Indian troops does not mean the country will be replacing them with Chinese troops, emphasizing that he has no intention of upsetting the regional balance. The move comes as part of Muizu’s efforts to improve relations with China and introduce more Chinese-funded projects in the Maldives.
The Maldives, known for its sun, sandy beaches, and beautiful natural environment, has become a focus of geopolitical competition in recent years due to its strategic location as the only route for international maritime traffic.
While no specific timetable for the troop withdrawal has been announced, the technical details of the agreement are currently being discussed. President Muizu also announced that the Maldives will use diplomatic channels to ensure that no foreign troops are stationed on the country’s territory.
The announcement came after President Muizu held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the World Climate Summit in Dubai. The two leaders reached a consensus to establish a high-level committee responsible for coordinating existing development assistance projects and addressing related challenges in the Maldives.
The Maldives has assured that the country will first use diplomatic channels to ensure that there are no foreign troops stationed on the country’s territory before the withdrawal of Indian troops. There has been no response from India regarding the announcement.
The Maldives President’s office released a statement saying, “After a series of constructive talks, an agreement has been reached with the Indian government on the withdrawal of military personnel.”
The president’s office also revealed that India had gifted three aircraft to the Maldives for patrolling the country’s waters, and the Indian military personnel were responsible for the control and maintenance of these aircraft.
The Maldives did not mention any specific details about the withdrawal agreement, and India has not responded as of Monday. The two countries are set to establish a high-level committee to coordinate development assistance projects and related challenges in the Maldives.
Muizu’s predecessor in the Maldives pursued a “India first” policy, while Muizu’s election represents a shift towards improving relations with China. The move is expected to have broader implications for the geopolitical landscape in the South Asian region.