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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday defended the implementation of Agniveer Scheme in India which abruptly halted the recruitment of military personnel from Nepal and said that New Delhi will reform its policies prioritizing Indian interest, and “an Indian decision cannot be made because somebody else’s interest is at stake.”

“Why did we do Agniveer? We did it for ourselves. We will reform our armed forces, obviously with Indian interests in mind,” EAM Jaishankar said while interacting with students at a session on “Vishwa Bandhu Bharat” at Gargi College in New Delhi.

“Any reform, I’m not talking now, Agniveer, an Indian decision cannot be made because somebody else’s interest is at stake. India will decide on what is India’s interest,” he added.

The Union Cabinet on 14th June 2022 approved an attractive recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the Armed Forces called AGNIPATH and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers. AGNIPATH allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years.

After it was implemented in September 2022, the scheme stopped or abruptly halted recruitment from Nepal.

EAM Jaishankar also addressed India’s diplomatic row with Maldives and asserted that governments may have different viewpoints but the neighbour countries cannot move away from each other.

“They (Maldives) have their politics. Sometimes you have a government that may have a viewpoint about India, but at the end of the day, we tell them saying, look, we are all neighbours. We can’t move away from each other,” EAM said.

“Example that somebody can give you, I can give you a reverse example, say, in Nepal, you know, for years, Nepal has a tremendous power, ability to generate electricity. We are logical customers, but for political reasons, they never did it. Now they are willing to do it in Sri Lanka, as I said, Sri Lankans know actually who really helped them out. If you go to Bangladesh today, the thinking about India has changed fundamentally,” he asserted India’s strengthening relations with its neighbours.

His remarks came as Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer departed from Male to pay an official visit to India amid strained ties triggered after Maldives asked India to replace its military personnel from the island nation.

Meanwhile, India has said that it will replace its military personnel from Maldives before May 10.

On May 3, India and Maldives held the 4th meeting of the bilateral High-Level Core Group and reviewed the replacement of Indian military personnel from the Island nation by May 10 and noted that the government will replace military personnel before the noted time. Earlier, the Mohamed Muizzu-led Maldives government formally requested that India withdraw its troops from Male.

Earlier, addressing the controversy surrounding Nepal’s depiction of certain Indian territories on its currency notes, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar highlighted the complexities of managing relationships with neighbouring countries.

S Jaishankar acknowledged that dealing with neighbouring nations often involves navigating political intricacies.

“Sometimes, dealing with our neighbours involves navigating a bit of politics. It’s about balancing our interests with theirs,” said EAM Jaishankar during a press interaction here on Sunday.

He also cautioned that there might not be positivity towards India among all its neighbours, citing instances where unfavourable opinions have been voiced. “If you visit places like Sri Lanka, you might hear some unfavourable opinions from government officials or individuals,” he said.