Thaw in Indo-Maldives Ties? Indian Military Choppers At Strategic Maldivian Islands Set To Stay

Thaw in Indo-Maldives Ties? Indian Military Choppers At Strategic Maldivian Islands Set To StayThe first helicopter gifted by India to the Maldives in 2010. (MNDF)

The stand-off between India and Maldives over the fate of Indian military helicopters leased to the island country could possibly be heading for a breakthrough.

It has been reported that talks between the two nations have been moving on a positive note with the island nation open to the idea of continued deployment of the military choppers along with their full complement crew and support staff.

The choppers, one of which is operated by the Coast Guard and the other by the Indian Navy, are deployed on the strategically important islands of Addu and Lammu. The lease agreement for these choppers was signed in 2013 and expired the current year but Maldives expressed an unwillingness to extend the lease thus throwing into question their continued deployment in the strategically important island nation.

The said development coincided with a dive in bilateral relations as the proclamation of emergency by the Maldives President pursuant to a Supreme Court ruling calling for release of opposition leaders strained ties between the two neighbours. India has been urging the restoration of democratic processes and has also called for release of opposition leaders in order to have a free and fair presidential election which is scheduled to take place next month.

The proposed extension of visa to the Indian team associated with handling the choppers which includes personnel from the Indian Navy and Coast Guard among others could potentially lead to a revival of security and defence cooperation.