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India and the Maldives on Friday reviewed the ongoing process of replacing Indian military personnel from the island nation with Male saying New Delhi would complete the withdrawal of its troops by May 10.

The two sides held the fourth meeting of the bilateral high-level core group in Delhi. India has already withdrawn some of its military personnel who were operating three aviation platforms in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The military personnel were replaced by civilian technical experts. The Indian personnel were operating three aviation platforms in the Maldives and New Delhi is now deploying civilian personnel to operate them.

Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu had set May 10 as the deadline for withdrawal of the Indian military personnel from his country.

“Both sides continued their discussions on wide ranging issues related to bilateral cooperation. This included defence cooperation, development cooperation projects, efforts to enhance bilateral trade and investment, and capacity building initiatives,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

It said both sides also reviewed the ongoing efforts to enable “continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medvac (medical evacuation) services to the people of Maldives,” it said in a brief statement.

The Maldivian foreign ministry said both sides also reviewed the existing bilateral cooperation in the meeting.

“Discussions were held on a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including development and defence cooperation,” it said.

“Both sides noted with satisfaction that the Government of India will replace military personnel at the last of the three aviation platforms by May 10 and all the logistical arrangements are going ahead as per schedule,” it said.

It said the two agreed that the fifth meeting of the high-level core group will be held in Male on a mutually agreeable date during the month of June or July.

The two sides decided to set up the core group following a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Muizzu on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai in December.

The ties between India and the Maldives came under some strain since Muizzu came to power in November.

Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, maintained after assuming charge as the president that he will keep his election promise of evicting Indian military personnel from his country.

Muizzu, 45, defeated India-friendly incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential runoff held in September last year.

The Maldives is one of India’s key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and the overall bilateral ties including in areas of defence and security witnessed an upward trajectory under the previous government in Male.