External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said the attacks on ships in the vicinity of India were a matter of “grave concern”, adding, that such threats have a direct bearing on India’s energy and economic interest. Addressing the international community, the External Affairs Minister also said that this “fraught situation” is not to the benefit of any party.
“There has also recently been a perceptible increase in threats to the safety of maritime commercial traffic in this important part of the Indian Ocean,” Jaishankar said in a joint press statement after wide-ranging talks with Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian.
He stressed that it’s important that this issue be “speedily addressed”, in an apparent reference to the targeting of merchant vessels in the Red Sea – one of the busiest trade routes – by Iranian-backed Yemen’s Houthi rebels amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“We have even seen some attacks in the vicinity of India. This is a matter of great concern to the international community. Obviously, it also has a direct bearing on India’s energy and economic interests. This fraught situation is not to the benefit of any party and this must be clearly recognised,” he said.
Jaishankar, who is in Tehran as part of the ongoing high-level exchanges between the two sides, also said that both India and Iran are concerned about recent events in West Asia and emphasise the importance of preventing further escalation of violence and hostilities in the region.
He said the “deeply concerning” situation in Gaza was naturally a subject of discussion.
“The loss of civilian lives, especially that of women and children was our primary focus. There is a visible humanitarian crisis that needs to be addressed and the creation of sustainable humanitarian corridors is the need of the day,” the External Affairs Minister said and welcomed the international community’s efforts in that direction.
“India itself has delivered shipments of relief material to Gaza and contributed to the UNRWA,” he added.
On the issue of Palestine, Jaishankar reiterated India’s long-standing support for a two-state solution, where the Palestinian people can live freely in an independent country within secure borders.
“I stressed the need for all parties to avoid provocative and escalatory actions, and to facilitate movement towards dialogue and diplomacy,” he added.
His remarks came on a day when a missile fired by Houthis struck a US-owned ship just off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden. A day earlier, Houthi fired an anti-ship cruise missile toward an American destroyer in the Red Sea, according to reports.
The US and the UK last week launched air strikes targeting the Houthi positions in Yemen.
India has been closely monitoring the unfolding situation in the Red Sea.
The Indian Navy has already enhanced deployment of its frontline ships and surveillance aircraft for maritime security operations in view of the maritime environment in the critical sea lanes including the North and Central Arabian Sea.