US seeks to sink differences with India over warship passage

Washington: Amid spiralling tension between India and the US over the passage of America’s warship through Indian waters, Washington sought to sink differences with New Delhi, saying it values its partnership with India.

The passage of the US warship for a naval operation, through India's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Lakshadweep coast, without prior consent last week has triggered discord between the two countries with New Delhi immediately registering its opposition through diplomatic channels.

“On April 7, the USS John Paul Jones, part of the US Navy Seventh Fleet, conducted a routine Freedom of Navigation Operation in the Indian Ocean. This operation demonstrates longstanding US support for international law and freedom of the seas worldwide,” a US Department of Defence spokesperson has said.

“We value our partnership with India on a wide range of issues, including regional security across the Indo-Pacific,” the spokesperson said.

US Ship's Transit Through Indian Waters

The Destroyer USS John Paul Jones on April 7 conducted a Freedom of Navigation Operations in Indian waters to challenge India's “excessive maritime claims”.

The US 7th Fleet Public Affairs had said in a statement, "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.”

The move evoked sharp reaction from India that 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 in a statement.

"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.