President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s government has decided not to send back the helicopters gifted to the country by the Indian government.
The country’s first ever female defence minister, Mariya Didi, announced the decision on behalf of the government on Monday.
In an interview to World Is One News (WION) news channel in India, Mariya stated that rejecting or returning gifts from neighbors goes against the culture of Maldivians. The helicopters gifted by India would be used to transfer the sick and in search and rescue operations, she said.
During former President Abdulla Yameen’s regime, the government had stated that they decided to return the helicopters when the agreement came to an end due to two reasons; the helicopters had not been adequately used for its purpose and India promised to gift a Dornier Maritime Surveillance aircraft to the Maldives.
The first helicopter gifted by India was brought to the Maldives during 2010, while the second one was brought a year later.
The two countries had been at odds since former President Yameen established ties and carried out various business agreements with China during his tenure.