President Mohamed Muizzu has requested India to withdraw its troops from the Maldives by 15 March, an administration official revealed on Sunday. The development, which comes at a time of heightened diplomatic tensions, could further exacerbate the already frayed relations between the two countries. The request was made during the inaugural meeting of the India-Maldives High-Level Core Group held in Malé.

Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim, the Principal Secretary to the President on Public Policy, confirmed at a press conference that the president has proposed the withdrawal of Indian troops within the next 30 days. “The government, and specifically the President’s Office under President [Mohamed Muizzu], proposed this date to the agenda of the meeting,” he stated.

During the core group meeting, both sides discussed a wide range of issues related to bilateral cooperation, including steps to enhance the partnership and expedite the implementation of ongoing development cooperation projects, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry stated, “Both sides also held discussions on finding a mutually workable solution to enable the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medevac services to the people of Maldives.”

On the topic of removing India’s military presence in the Maldives, the Maldives’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “Both sides expressed willingness to intensify cooperation and agreed to fast-track the withdrawal of Indian military personnel.”

In his campaign, President Muizzu pledged to bring an end to foreign military presence in the Maldives, which aligns with his broader strategy to recalibrate the nation’s foreign policy. The first 100-day roadmap of the Muizzu administration includes the removal of foreign troops stationed in the country.

President Muizzu, who assumed office in November after winning the presidential election against former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, initiated dialogue with Indian officials regarding the withdrawal soon after taking office.