The United States on Tuesday once again said that its naval operation last week in India’s maritime exclusive economic zone, carried out without New Delhi’s permission, was a routine matter, NDTV reported. A spokesperson of the US Department of Defense said that the country valued its partnership with India on a “wide range of issues, including regional security across the Indo-Pacific”.
“This operation demonstrates longstanding US support for international law and freedom of the seas worldwide,” the spokesperson said, adding that it was part of “routine Freedom of Navigation Operation in the Indian Ocean”.
The USS John Paul Jones, a destroyer ship, had passed through the exclusive zone in the Arabian Sea without taking India’s permission on April 7.
Following the development, India on April 9, conveyed its concerns about the exercise to the US. In a statement, the foreign ministry said that the Indian government does not authorise other states to carry out military exercises or manoeuvres in the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf without the consent of the coastal state.
On April 11, the US referred to the incident as an “innocent passage”. But it maintained that the operation was consistent with international law.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said that the US Navy did nothing illegal by holding the operations, but it could have avoided publicly “thumbing its nose” at India.
In a series of tweets, Tharoor said that there was nothing in the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea which supported India’s stand on the matter. He said that the US was exercising the Freedom of Navigation principle in Lakshadweep, which it also insists in doing in the South China Sea.
“The US can be accused of not respecting our sensibilities but not of breaking international law,” he tweeted.