Amid an escalating diplomatic row, Maldives on Sunday asked India to withdraw its military personnel from the archipelago by March 15, Times of India reports with inputs from PTI.
Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, who recently returned from his visit to China, formally asked India to end its army presence, Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim, the public policy secretary at the President’s Office, said at a press briefing.
According to the latest government figures, there are 88 Indian military personnel in the Maldives.
“Indian military personnel cannot stay in the Maldives. This is the policy of President Dr Mohamed Muizzu and that of this administration,” he said.
Maldives and India have set up a high-level core group to negotiate the withdrawal of troops.
On Sunday, the group held its first meeting at the Foreign Ministry Headquarters in Male.
The meeting was also attended by Indian high commissioner Munu Mahawar, the report said.
Nazim confirmed the meeting and said the agenda for the meeting was the request to withdraw troops by March 15.
The Indian government did not immediately confirm the media report or comment on it.
The move comes amid diplomatic tensions between both the nations after three ministers from the Maldives government made “derogatory” remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he posted pictures from his recent visit to Lakshadweep.
The ministers were suspended by the Maldives government following an intense backlash over their remarks. The controversy also triggered a massive Boycott Maldives campaign in India.