The United States on Friday defended the liberty of navigation operation carried out by its seventh Fleet inside India’s unique financial zone with out taking New Delhi’s permission, calling the transfer an “innocent passage through its territorial sea…” and “consistent with international law”.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby advised reporters that the USS John Paul Jones, a Navy destroyer, “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Republic of the Maldives by conducting innocent passage through its territorial sea, in normal operations with its exclusive economic zone, without requesting prior permission and that’s consistent with international law”.

“Again, we will continue to maintain the right, indeed the responsibility to fly, sail and operate in accordance with international law,” he added.

The seventh Fleet is the biggest of the US Navy’s ahead deployed fleets. Though the US Navy has carried out comparable operations in Indian waters in recent times, these weren’t publicised, because it occurred within the case of the most recent operation on April 7.

In a press launch on Wednesday, the seventh Fleet had mentioned that USS John Paul Jones “asserted navigational rights and freedoms” round 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s unique financial zone, with out requesting India’s prior consent, according to worldwide legislation, as required by India.

The Indian authorities’s acknowledged place on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is that the conference “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 assertion added.

Every coastal nation’s EEZ extends to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores and the nation has unique rights to all sources within the water, together with oil, pure fuel and fish. Any navy exercise within the EEZ requires India’s permission, navy officers mentioned, asking to not be named.

“If you have to do anything in our EEZ, you have to notify us and take permission,” Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh mentioned in 2019 after a Chinese vessel was repelled after intruding into Indian waters close to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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