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Business News/ News / India/  Maldives purchases drones from Turkey for patrolling after inking deal with China
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Maldives purchases drones from Turkey for patrolling after inking deal with China

Maldives purchases drones from Turkey for patrolling the country's maritime area

Maldives president Mohammed Muizzu | Maldives purchases drones from Turkey for patrolling after inking deal with China (HT_PRINT)Premium
Maldives president Mohammed Muizzu | Maldives purchases drones from Turkey for patrolling after inking deal with China (HT_PRINT)

Within days of the Maldives inking a defence deal to obtain non-lethal weapons from China, the archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean has acquired drones from Turkey for patrolling its vast exclusive economic zone, according to a media report on Saturday.

The Maldives government is likely to start operations of the drones within the next week.

However, the exact number of drones was not clear nor was there any official confirmation from the Maldives’ Ministry of Defence or Foreign Ministry, the report said.

Pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu, upon his return from China, indicated that the government was looking to acquire surveillance drones.

“Military drones have been brought to the Maldives for the first time following an agreement by the current government with a Turkish company to purchase drones to patrol the country's waters. The drones were delivered to the Maldives on March 3.

The drones are currently at Noonu Maafaru International Airport," news portal Adhadhu said, quoting a senior government official involved in the matter.

Turkey was the first foreign country visited by Muizzu after he was sworn in as president in November.

However, the number of drones acquired from Turkey under the agreement remains unclear even as the government official said the government is working to start operations of the drones within the next week, it said.

Stating that the government has not made any official comments regarding the drones, Adhadhi said it had, during a press conference on Wednesday, questioned whether the Maldives can operate such drones.

“But the Defence Ministry official declined to respond directly and said work is ongoing to strengthen the capabilities," the news portal said.

It further quoted social media posts to claim that it was Turkey company Baykar's TB2 drones and equipment needed for the drones that were delivered to the Maldives.

Earlier in January, speaking to reporters at the Velana International Airport after he returned from a state visit to China, Muizzu made a lot of claims about his country’s defence without naming India.

Stating that Maldives is not located in the backyard of any country, he had said, “Even though our islands are small, we are a huge country with a very large exclusive economic zone of nine lakh square kilometres. Maldives is one country that holds the largest proportion of this ocean. This ocean is not the property of a specific country."

On March 4, Muizzu also announced that his country is working to establish a 24/7 monitoring system for the Maldivian waters this month to ensure control of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) despite its significantly large area.

Adhadhu further reported that earlier this year, the President’s Office has amended the Import Duty Waiver Procedure to give the President the discretion to remove import duties on items for use by the security services.

“This is believed to be an amendment to the rules to facilitate the purchase of military drones," it said.

Although this is the first time that such drones have been acquired for the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), the government has not disclosed any information on the matter. Adhadhu earlier reported that USD 37 million (MVR 569.8 million) was allocated from the state’s contingency budget to purchase the drones.

The Defence Ministry later said the government is procuring modern “platforms and equipment" for MNDF to defend and protect the Maldives by road, sea and air.

During Wednesday's press briefing, the Defence Ministry refused to provide details of the agreement to purchase the drones. The Foreign Ministry has also, so far, not provided any information on the matter.

The development comes ahead of the March 10 deadline set by the Maldives government for the withdrawal of Indian military troops from the island nation. Earlier this week, President Muizzu affirmed that no Indian military personnel, not even those in civilian clothing, would be present inside his country after May 10.

Muizzu’s statement came less than a week after an Indian civilian team reached the Maldives to take charge of one of the three aviation platforms in the island nation, well ahead of the March 10 deadline agreed by the two nations for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel.

Last year, less than 24 hours after taking oath as the President, Muizzu formally requested India to withdraw 88 military personnel from his country by March 15, saying the Maldivian people have given him a "strong mandate" to make this request to New Delhi.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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Published: 10 Mar 2024, 11:08 AM IST
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