The Indian Ocean island’s president, Mohamed Muiz, said on Sunday that the Indian government had agreed to withdraw troops from the Maldives.
Muiz won September’s presidential election by calling for a change to the Maldives’ “India first” policy and promising to remove the small Indian military presence of about 75 people.
“During the discussions we had, the Indian government agreed to remove the Indian soldiers,” Muiz told reporters. “We also agreed to set up a high-level committee to resolve issues related to development projects.”
Muiz made the remarks after meeting with Indian officials on the sidelines of the COP28 climate change summit.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
India and China are competing for influence in the region, and the coalition supporting Muiz is seen as leaning towards Beijing.
Most of the Indian military personnel were in the Maldives to operate and manage two helicopters and one Dornier aircraft gifted to the Maldives by India.
India is providing certain military equipment to the Maldives, assisting in disaster response, and assisting in the construction of a naval shipyard in the Maldives.
Muiz said at his inauguration last month that he would ensure his country had no foreign military presence.
He had requested India’s Earth Science Minister Kiren Rijiju, who represented India at the presidential inauguration ceremony, to withdraw Indian troops.