Male [Maldives], November 18 (ANI): Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu on Saturday met Union Minister of Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju and “formally requested” the Indian government to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives.
Kiren Rijiju, who attended the swearing-in ceremony of Mohamed Muizzu on Friday, paid “a courtesy call” on the Maldives President at the President’s Office on Saturday.
“At the meeting, President Muizzu had formally requested the Government of India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives. The President noted that at the Presidential Election held in September, the Maldivian people had given him a strong mandate to make the request to India and expressed the hope that India will honour the democratic will of the people of the Maldives,” a statement from Maldives President’s Office said.
“While discussing the matter with Minister Kiren Rijiju, President Dr Muizzu also acknowledged the significant role of the two helicopters in providing numerous emergency medical evacuations,” the statement added.
It said that Rijiju conveyed his best wishes to the President, representing the sentiments of the Government and the people of India.
“The Minister expressed his aspiration to foster a constructive relationship with the Maldives, acknowledging the presence of a vibrant Indian community residing in the Maldives,” the statement said.
President Muizzu and Minister Kiren Rijiju also reviewed the progress of the implementation of various projects in the Maldives with the support of India.
The President emphasised the importance of accelerating the Greater Male’ Connectivity Project (GMCP), and highlighted the importance of addressing and overcoming the issues delaying the project.
“President Muizzu and Minister Kiren Rijiju concluded the meeting with a renewed commitment to fortify the bilateral relations between the two countries,” he said.
During his visit to Maldives, Rijiju also visited the 4,000 Social Housing Units Project at Hulhumale’.
Rijiju also reviewed the ongoing work on the Greater Male Connectivity project being built under the Government of India’s concessional Line of Credit and Grant.
India has said that its cooperation with Maldives is based on jointly addressing shared challenges and priorities.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said last month at a media briefing that assistance and platforms that India has provided have contributed significantly in areas like people’s welfare, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and combating illegal maritime activities in Maldives.
“Over the last five years, more than 500 medical evacuations have been carried out by our personnel, saving 523 Maldivian lives. Of these, 131 evacuations were carried out this year, another 140 last year, and a further 109 in 2021. Similarly, during the last five years, more than 450 multifaceted missions have been carried out to safeguard the maritime security of Maldives. Of these, 122 missions were carried out last year, while 152 and 124 missions were undertaken in 2021 and 2020 respectively. India has also been the first responder for Maldives in any disaster scenario, including most recently during COVID,” he had said.
He said that India looks forward to constructively engaging with the incoming administration in the Maldives and discussing ways to enhance the relationship further.
“We look forward to continuing with our cooperation and partnership with Maldives, which is multifaceted, which covers areas for the benefit of the Maldivian people, particularly in humanitarian assistance or welfare or disaster relief or other issues.
India has provided Dornier aircraft to the Maldives. “A medical evacuation of a 36-year-old female in critical condition was carried out from Th. Atoll Hospital to Male’ City by MNDF Central Area Command via MNDF Dornier Aircraft today at 17:04 hours,” Maldives National Defence Force shared on X on Saturday. (ANI)