Maldives Govt Asks India To Withdraw Military Personnel As Muizzu Speaks To Kiren Rijiju

The Government of Maldives formally requested India to withdraw its military personnel from the country during a meeting between Maldives President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu and Union Minister of Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju. The meeting took place at the President’s Office on Saturday, as confirmed by an official statement. The conversation aimed to underline India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ and foster positive relations between the two nations.

“President Dr Mohamed Muizzu formally made the request when he met the Minister of Earth Sciences of India, H.E. Mr. Kiren Rijiju, at the President’s Office earlier today,” an official statement informed

Minister Kiren Rijiju, during his visit to Maldives, reiterated India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation and people-to-people ties while conveying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s greetings to President Muizzu.

“Privileged to call on President H.E. Dr. Mohamed Muizzu. Conveyed greetings from Hon’ble PM @NarendraModi and reiterated India’s commitment to further strengthen the substantive bilateral cooperation and robust people-to-people ties,” Rijiju posted on social media after the meeting.

President Muizzu, who assumed office on Friday, defeating the India-friendly incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, has previously indicated the need to address the withdrawal of Indian military troops as one of the issues between the two countries.

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Significance Of India And Maldives’ Ties

Maldives, a key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), holds strategic importance for India’s ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR) initiative and ‘Neighbourhood First Policy.’ India has historically assisted Maldives, especially during the 2004 Tsunami and the water crisis in Male in December 2014.

The proximity of Maldives to the west coast of India, its location at the hub of commercial sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, and its significance in the SAGAR vision make it crucial to India’s strategic interests. Despite the diplomatic challenge posed by the request for troop withdrawal, both countries aim to recalibrate and advance their relationship for mutual benefit.

“This high-level Ministerial representation from India at the inaugural ceremony underscores India’s commitment to further deepen the substantive cooperation and robust people-to-people ties between the two countries,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs had stated prior to the Union Minister’s visit to the island nation.

Maldives’ new Foreign Minister, Moosa Zameer, expressed eagerness to collaborate on issues of mutual interest and enhance the enduring relationship between the two nations. 

“I look forward to working with you on issues of mutual interest and concern, and to recalibrate and advance the time-tested relationship between our two countries for the betterment of our people,” Zameer replied to Indian counterpart S Jaishankar’s tweet congratulating him for his new post.

Earlier, Union Minister Rijiju attended the inaugural reception which was hosted by the Maldives President and First Lady Sajidha Mohamed for the visiting dignitaries at Kurumba Maldives after the oath-taking ceremony.

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