Weeks After Indian Troops Asked to Leave Maldives, Modi Holds Talks with Mohamed Muizzu

On the sidelines of COP28 in Dubai, the Prime Minister held talks with the Maldivian new President, where both leaders 'discussed ways to further deepen their partnership'.

New Delhi: On the sidelines of the COP summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a series of discussions with world leaders ranging from his introductory meeting with the newly elected Maldivian president Mohamed Muizzu to the first high-level interaction with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog after the October 7 terror attacks.

In a significant interaction, Modi met with the Maldivian President in Dubai on Friday, two weeks after Muizzu won the presidential election. The meeting also took place against the backdrop of the Maldives government asking India to withdraw Indian defence personnel who were stationed to operate choppers, a day after Muizzu was sworn in the Indian Ocean island nation’s presidency.

The major outcome of the meeting was the setting up of a “core group” as per India or a “high level committee”, according to the Maldives.

The Indian press note said that the two leaders “discussed ways to further deepen their partnership” and that the “core group” was a result of this direction of discussion.

The Maldivian press communique also declared that a “high level committee” would be looking to enhance development and economic cooperation, people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

Additionally, a tweet from the Maldivian president’s office said that the two leaders “discussed cooperation between the Maldives and India on matters of concern and sensitivities for the people of Maldives and of mutual benefit to the people of the two countries”.

There are, however, no more details about the composition of the group or its discussions.

The other key meeting was Modi’s talks with Israeli President Isaac Herzog. While Modi has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this was the highest-level meeting between India and Israel since Hamas launched a terror attack on Israel.

As per an MEA readout, the two leaders exchanged views on the “ongoing Israel – Hamas conflict in the region”. “Prime Minister expressed his condolences on the loss of lives in the October 7 terror attacks and welcomed the release of hostages,” it said.

He also reportedly emphasised the need for “the need for continued and safe delivery of humanitarian aid for the affected population” and recalled India’s support for a “two-state solution” for the Israel-Palestine dispute.

More than 1200 were killed by Hamas on October 7 and scores were taken hostage in Gaza. Israel’s counter-strikes, which included airstrikes and ground operations, killed over 14,000 Palestinians.

The seven-day pause in infighting to allow the return of hostages ended on Friday, with Israel resuming its bombardment of Gaza. India has not publicly urged a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and it had abstained on the resolution in the UN general assembly which had called for a humanitarian pause to allow for supply of essential supplies.

The Indian PM also had meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron, Swiss President Alain Berset, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson as well his host, UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.