Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Maldives sets deadline for India on taking back helicopters

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held a high-power meeting on Monday to discuss a deadline set by the Maldives for India to withdraw its helicopters gifted to the island nation, at least two senior officials confirmed.

According to sources, tensions over the presence of the two Indian helicopters in two different strategically important locations in Laamu and Addu atolls have been growing over the past few weeks, forcing the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to step in to defuse the situation.

“Maldives has given India a deadline by the month-end to remove its helicopters,” an official source told The Hindu. The government was discussing possible reactions to the move.

India had gifted two Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to Maldives in 2013, of which one was operated by the Indian Coast Guard and the other by the Indian Navy, which were manned by six pilots and a number of maintenance ground staff. In the normal course, Letters of Exchange are renewed for two years at a time, but on this occasion the Yameen government refused to do so and has since made it clear that it would like India to remove them and their crew entirely.
12/06/18 Dinakar Peri/The Hindu