The two sides decided to set up the core group following a meeting between Modi and Muizzu on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai
New Delhi: India and the Maldives on Friday agreed on a "set of mutually workable solutions" to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms in the island nation as the two sides held extensive deliberations on the contentious issue.Last month, Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu asked India to withdraw all its military personnel from the island nation by March 15.
The India-Maldives high level core group held a crucial meeting in New Delhi on Friday primarily exploring ways to resolve the matter, over two weeks after the two sides deliberated over it in their first meeting in Male.
Both sides "agreed on a set of mutually workable solutions to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms" that provide humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of Maldives, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.
It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the high level core group in Male' on a mutually convenient date, it said.
"During the meeting, both sides continued their discussions on wide ranging issues related to bilateral cooperation towards identifying steps to enhance the partnership, including expediting the implementation of ongoing development cooperation projects," the MEA said.
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.
At present, around 80 Indian military personnel are in the Maldives primarily to operate two helicopters and an aircraft which carried out hundreds of medical evacuations and humanitarian missions.
The ties between the two countries came under some strain since he 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.
Muizzu was sworn in as the new Maldivian president on November 17.
A day after taking charge of the top office, he called for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the Maldives.
After the first meeting of the core group on January 14, the Ministry of External Affairs said that sides were looking at finding a mutually workable solution to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of Maldives.