Muizzu: A priority to ensure relations with India thrive despite removal of soldiers

President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu addresses his victory rally in Male' City on October 2, 2023. (Sun Photo/Maahil Athif)

President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has stated that he would make it a priority of his administration to ensure Maldives’ relations with India thrive despite the removal of Indian soldiers from the Maldives.

Muizzu, in an online interview to foreign news outlet Reuters, said he will be holding frank and detailed diplomatic consultations with India to work out details of sending back military personnel from the Maldives as soon as possible.

"The focus is not on the actual number of military personnel here, it is on not having any at all in the Maldives. We will discuss with the Indian government and find out a way forward for this,” he stressed.

He noted that will seek details of Uthuru Thilafalhu agreement signed with India to build a naval harbor for Maldivian forces, to clear up any concerns over Maldivian independence and sovereignty.

Affirming the need to develop Maldives’ naval base and other military training grounds with assistance from different countries – said it does not mean there should be a setup in which foreign military presence is required for its operations.

Nevertheless, he said he would make it a priority to ensure that Maldives relations with India thrive, adding the Indian leadership will agree that both nations have a shared interest in creating a reservoir of respect which will be beneficial not just for the Maldives and India, but also for the stability and security of the Indian Ocean region. 

He also noted plans to improve ties with China.

He said the Maldives will engage with India and China, as well as other countries, on growth opportunities including investment in special economic zones.

"I’m not pro-China or any country. The Maldives is and will not be anti or pro any country. My government will always be for Maldives. The Maldives will benefit immensely from having strong and vibrant relationships with the advanced economies as well as with emerging economic powers," he said.