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- Context (IE): Maldives has asked India to withdraw all its military personnel from the island nation.
- Maldives and India have set up a high-level core group to negotiate the withdrawal of troops.
- Around 77 Indian military personnel are in the Maldives, as per official data.
- The Indian military saved the Maldivian President during Operation Cactus, thwarting a military coup.
- Indian military personnel train Maldivian troops in combat, surveillance, and rescue-aid operations.
- Helicopter operations, Dornier aircraft operations & associated maintenance and engineering works.
Apprehension and mistrust
- India-gifted Dhruv ALHs are seen as an attempt to increase India’s military presence.
- Previous Solih government’s perceived lack of transparency while dealing with India raised mistrust.
- The Maldivian police academy campus is seen as an attempt to settle more Indians in Maldives.
- Maldivian media also portrayed the UTF Harbour Project agreement at Uthuru Thilafalhu, a strategically located atoll near the capital Malé, as India’s military base project.
Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv
- Domestic politics & the pro-China government are the real reasons behind the withdrawal demand.
- Maldivian culture, rooted in Buddhism, became a constitutionally Muslim nation after conversions.
- Maldives managed to maintain relative independence from European colonisation.
- It signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the British in 1887.
- With internal political sovereignty, foreign affairs were surrendered to Britain.
- During the Second World War, the Maldives was a British naval base and continued as a British protectorate until its independence in 1965.
- Independent Maldives became a UN member in 1965.
- India was the first nation to launch a resident mission in Male in 1976.
- In 1978, the Indian International Airport Authority was awarded a tender to expand the Hulhule airport runway.
- Indo-Maldivian bilateral relationship was formalised by signing the Treaty of Friendship in 1981.
- Maldivian foreign policy under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom took a lukewarm turn towards India despite India’s aid in preserving his regime during a coup attempt.
- Recognising China’s emergence as a global power with significant strategic interests in the Indian Ocean, President Gayoom visited China in 1984 and then again in 2006.
- Again, Indo-Maldivian ties improved with President Mohamed Nasheed coming to power in 2008 with campaign critical Sinocentric policies.
For details on India-Maldives relations, visit >India-Maldives Relations.