US Navy conducts freedom of navigation operation inside India’s exclusive economic zone without consent, says consistent with international law

US Navy Holds Ops Near Lakshadweep Without Indian Permission

The Indian Navy or the External Affairs Ministry are yet to respond.

In a statement being looked at closely by the Indian government, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet has said it conducted Freedom of Navigation Operations within India’s exclusive economic zone off the Lakshadweep Islands without India’s permission. This is in dissonance with India’s maritime security policy of such exercises requiring its authorisation.

“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,” said a statement by the US 7th Fleet Public Affairs.

The statement would be jarring for New Delhi since the US is among India’s closest strategic partners with both sides having repeatedly opposed China’s maritime expansionism, particularly in the South China Sea. India and the US hold Naval exercises throughout the year.

“We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future. FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements,” the statement said.

The Indian Navy or the External Affairs Ministry are yet to respond.

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