Maldives leader demands removal of Indian military by mid-March

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MALE, Maldives — Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu wants the Indian military personnel stationed in his archipelago nation withdrawn by March 15, an official with his office said Sunday.

Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim, a presidential aide, told reporters that Muizzu proposed the removal at a meeting with officials of the Indian Embassy in the Maldives and other visiting Indian officials.

The move comes a day after Muizzu returned from China, India’s regional rival, and made comments critical of India.

Muizzu said his country’s small size is not a license for anyone to bully the Maldives. His comments were an apparent response to social media calls in India to boycott Maldives tourism after three Maldives deputy ministers made derogatory posts on social media against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.