Maldives calls for withdrawal of Indian troops by March 15

MALE: The Maldives has called for India to withdraw troops from its territory by March 15, an official said on Sunday (Jan 14), in a step that will further strain ties between South Asian neighbours.

President Mohamed Muizzu won election last year with a pledge to end the Maldives’ “India first” policy, in a region where New Delhi and Beijing compete for influence.

A small contingent of around 80 Indian soldiers are stationed on the Indian Ocean archipelago to provide support for military equipment given to the Maldives by New Delhi and assist in humanitarian activities in the region.

Muizzu proposed their removal in talks at the foreign ministry between senior delegations from both countries.

“In this meeting, on behalf of President Muizzu, the Maldivian delegation proposed the removal of Indian troops by March 15,” Ahmed Nazim, Policy Director at the President’s Office told reporters.

“This date was proposed in the agenda by the government and specifically the president. These discussions are ongoing.”

In his campaign, Muizzu called New Delhi’s huge influence a threat to sovereignty and pledged to remove Indian troops.

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