India to deploy civilians in Maldives instead of troops

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The Maldivian Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday that India will remove its troops from the Maldives by May. The approximately 80 soldiers stationed in the Indian Ocean archipelago will be replaced by civilians. The strained ties between the two countries have been a result of the pullout agreement. The Maldives has traditionally been close to India, but recently, both India and China have been trying to gain influence in the region. The election of President Mohamed Muizzu last year, who aimed to end the country’s “India First” policy, has further strained the relationship between India and the Maldives. The troops stationed by India are set to leave in stages, with the first group departing by March 10 and the remaining soldiers leaving by May 10. The two countries have also reached an agreement on the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms providing humanitarian services to the Maldives. India claims that its soldiers provide support for military equipment given to the Maldives by India, as well as humanitarian aid and medical evacuations for the residents of the country’s remote islands. The next meeting between India and the Maldives is scheduled to take place in Male in the last week of February.

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