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Bolstering Forces

Indian navy to open strategic base near Maldives

International Desk

July 24th, 2024 | 08:14:50 AM

India’s navy has said that it is bolstering forces on ‘strategically important’ islands close to the Maldives, with a new base set to open just days before Male starts sending home Indian forces.

Relations between India and the Maldives have soured since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year after promising to expel Indian forces.

India is suspicious of China’s growing presence in the archipelago nation, which straddles key east-west international shipping routes, and the new base will extend New Delhi’s ‘operational surveillance’ of the area, the navy said in a statement late Saturday.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft, with the first batch due to leave by March 10 and all to depart within two months.

The new base, opening March 6 on India’s Lakshadweep islands, will turn an existing small detachment into an ‘independent naval unit’, according to the navy’s statement.

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