The United States Department of Defense on Tuesday, 13 April, tried to soften its stand after hitting a roadblock with the India over the US conducting its routine Freedom of Navigation Operation off India’s Lakshadweep coast.
The US Department of Defense spokesperson said, as per NDTV, that the operation is routine and “demonstrates longstanding US support for international law and freedom of the seas worldwide. We value our partnership with India on a wide range of issues, including regional security across the Indo-Pacific.”
This comes nearly a week after the US on Friday, 9 April, had announced its Freedom of Navigation Operation in Indian waters off Lakshadweep Islands. The US Navy said that it carried out the operation inside India’s Exclusive Economic Zone without prior consent, in accordance with international laws.
Why Is This a Contention?
USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, “asserted freedom” approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s Exclusive Economic zone (EEZ), the US Navy said in the statement.
In response, India rejected the US’ contention that its domestic maritime law is in violation of the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea, and expressed its concerns about a US naval ship entering Indian waters.
Every coastal country’s EEZ extends to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores. Any activity within the EEZ or Indian waters needs prior permission as per Indian laws. The country in question has exclusive rights to all resources in the water.
Any military activity in the EEZ reportedly requires India’s permission.
What MEA Said
The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement, "The government of India's stated position on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is that the Convention does not authorise other states to carry out military exercises or manoeuvres in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and on the continental shelf, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state."
The ministry also stated that the US naval ship, USS John Paul Jones, was continuously monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits.
"We have conveyed our concerns regarding this passage through our EEZ to the Government of USA through diplomatic channels," the ministry said.
(With inputs from NDTV)
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