The United States has sought to dial down differences with India on the passage of a US warship through India’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Arabian Sea, which had taken place without New Delhi’s permission on April 7.
John F Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, has said that the Destroyer USS John Paul Jones conducted “innocent passage” through waters off the Maldives, indicating that military manoeuvres had not been carried out.
Earlier, in a statement, the government had said the United Nation’s Convention on the Law of the Sea does not authorise other states to carry out military exercises of manoeuvres on the continental shelf or “Exclusive Economic Zone”.
“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 in the Exclusive Economic Zone and on the continental shelf, military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
“The 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,” it added.
New Delhi had expressed its concern to Washington after the US Seventh Fleet referred to India’s maritime claims as being excessive.
The statement was unusual since New Delhi and Washington, both members of the Quad grouping, are both committed to protecting freedom of navigation in international waterways with a specific concern on China’s maritime expansionism.
The Quad grouping consists of the US, India, Japan, and Australia, and is viewed as a buffer against an increasingly assertive Beijing.
A statement by the US 7th Fleet Public Affairs had earlier said, “On April 7, 2021 (local time), the USS John Paul Jones asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone, without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law. India requires prior consent for military exercises or manoeuvres in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law.
In response to a query from NDTV on whether the Indian Navy attempted to contact the US Navy ship involved in the operation, a US Navy Spokesperson said, “All interactions during the freedom of navigation operation were in accordance with international law.”