Days after the second high-level meeting between India and Maldives, New Delhi has confirmed that current personnel in the island country will be replaced with "competent Indian technical personnel". The Ministry of External Affairs, however, refused to explain the meaning of this word.
Following contradictory reports on aid allocation to Maldives in this year's budget, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal also clarified on Thursday that the new figures could be revised and that India remains "an important development partner" of the island nation.
India has around 80 personnel, including medical staff, to operate three aircraft in the vast maritime region of Maldives. During the presidential elections last year, the main issue of Maldives President Mohammed Muizzu was to expel Indian forces from the country.
An agreement was reached between India and Maldives after the meeting last week.
After the meeting in New Delhi last week, Maldives issued a statement claiming that both sides have agreed that India will replace military personnel in one of the three aviation platforms by March 10 and the other by May 10.
Although there was no mention of withdrawal of troops, the Indian side said, "During the meeting, both sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues related to bilateral cooperation towards identifying steps to enhance the partnership." The discussions continued. “Both sides also agreed to mutually workable solutions for the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medical services to the people of Maldives,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
We are important and committed development partners for Maldives: External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson
When asked about the aid allocation for Maldives, Jaiswal said that according to some people the budgetary allocation has decreased while some people say that it has increased. He said, 'What happens is that some amount is allocated and then there is a revision stage... So you will see that this time the budget for Maldives has been given at Rs 779 crore whereas earlier it was estimated at Rs 600 crore. was imposed, so it has actually increased. “We remain an important and committed development partner for the Maldives,” Jaiswal said.