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regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 April 2024

Indian civilian team reaches Maldives to replace Indian military personnel manning 3 aviation platforms

The development comes days after Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, in his maiden address to Parliament on February 5 announced that the first group of Indian military personnel will be sent back from the island nation before March 10

PTI Male Published 28.02.24, 02:47 PM
Representational picture.

Representational picture. File picture.

Ahead of the March 10 deadline for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel in the Maldives, an Indian civilian team has reached here to take charge of one of the three aviation platforms in the island nation, local media reports said on Wednesday.

“The civilian team to operate and maintain the aircraft has now arrived in Maldives. The Indian civilian team arrived in Addu early last night to complete the handover/takeover process,” a news portal themaldivesjournal.com said quoting a statement by the Maldives Defence Ministry.

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After a high-level meeting in Delhi on February 2 between the two sides, the Maldivian foreign ministry said India will replace its military personnel operating the three aviation platforms in the Maldives by May 10 and the first phase of the process would be completed by March 10.

It is learnt that the Indian military personnel are expected to be replaced by civilians who have expertise in operating the three platforms.

There are 88 military personnel manning the three Indian platforms that have been providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of the Maldives for the last few years using two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft.

The development comes days after Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, in his maiden address to Parliament on February 5 announced that the first group of Indian military personnel will be sent back from the island nation before March 10. The remaining Indians manning the two aviation platforms will be withdrawn by May 10 according to the agreement between the two countries.

On Wednesday, the news portal also said, test flights will be held today (Wednesday), before the helicopter is taken to India for repairs. An Indian ship will dock in Addu on the 28th of this month carrying the replacement helicopter.

Further quoting the Defence Ministry statement, it said, the Indian troops will withdraw from the Maldives on the dates agreed upon by the two countries.

Soon after taking oath as the President on November 17, Muizzu formally requested India to withdraw 88 military personnel from his country by March 15, saying the Maldivian people had given him a “strong mandate” to make this request to New Delhi.

After the latest round of bilateral talks, India said on February 2 that a "set of mutually workable solutions" was agreed upon with the Maldives for continuing the operations of Indian aviation platforms in the island nation.

The Maldives' proximity to India, barely 70 nautical miles from the island of Minicoy in Lakshadweep and 300 nautical miles from the mainland's western coast, and its location at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) gives it significant strategic importance.

The Maldives has been India's key maritime neighbour in the IOR and it occupies a special place in its initiatives such as SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the Neighbourhood First Policy.'

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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