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Military ties improve as India sends warship to Maldives

As a sign of a thaw in bilateral military ties after months of tension, India has dispatched a warship to Maldives to undertake joint surveillance and patrol of the archipelago’s exclusive economic zone.

Two officers and eight sailors from the Indian Navy’s marine commandos wing are also currently at Maafilhafushi in Maldives, 145 km north of capital Male, to train its personnel in diving and tactics under the second asymmetric warfare training exercise called “Ekatha”.

“It is an endeavour of the Indian government and Navy to ensure safety and security of the vast EEZ of the island nation,” Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma was quoted by the Indian media on Friday.

Offshore patrol vessel INS Sumedha will undertake an operational turn-around at Male on May 11-12, which will involve training and embarkation of some personnel from the Maldives National Defence Forces.

It will then undertake the joint surveillance from May 12 to 15.

Bilateral ties between the two countries had soured after Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdulla Gayoom in February declared state of emergency following an order by the country’s Supreme Court to release a group of opposition leaders convicted in widely criticised trials.

Maldives had subsequently declined India’s invitation to participate in its eight-day mega naval conclave called “Milan” at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Maldives had later also asked the India to take back one of its two Dhruv advanced light helicopters (ALHs) gifted to the archipelago, as was first reported by TOI in April.