Hardeep Singh Puri To NDTV

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri spoke to NDTV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meet

New Delhi:

The sudden risk in navigating the maritime routes of the Red Sea is a matter of concern, but “there is enough wisdom around” to not allow the situation to escalate, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri has told NDTV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meet at Davos.

None of the state players involved want the situation to escalate and allow hostilities on a bigger scale, he said weeks after a merchant ship, Chem Pluto was struck by a drone 400 km of the Indian coastline.

“Any attempt to cause uncertainty even of perception in any sea route is a matter of concern,” Mr Puri said. “But there is enough maturity and wisdom around to be able to navigate around this,” he said.

About why there is this sudden outbreak of violence, Mr Puri said it is possible that some of the players were “not ready for the vast changes” that happened in a short while. “It is a matter of time before introspection is done and I am cautiously optimistic,” he added.

Over the last months, Yemen’s Houthi rebel group has been stepping up its attack on ships in the Red Sea shipping lane in retaliation to Israel’s air strikes in Gaza. The MV Chem Pluto, though, was struck while passing Iran — the obvious conclusion from the situation has been vehemently denied by Iran.

The MV Chem Pluto – carrying 21 crew members (20 Indians and 1 Vietnamese) -was struck by a drone 400 km of the Indian coastline in late December. Following it, the Indian Navy stationed several warships and long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft

Mr Puri said discussions are taking place with Iran and others. “I think even the foreign minister was there,” he said.

Earlier this week, during his visit to Teheran, foreign minister S Jaishankar had slammed the attacks on ships by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, calling it a matter of “grave concern”.

On a different note, asked about India’s transition to fossil fuels, Mr Puri said it would take less time than previously thought.

“You want energy atmanirbharta (self-reliance) by 2047. I think it can be done by 2037,” he said.

Explaining the issue, he said there are a few things at work.

Domestic exploration is becoming much more focussed, he said. “Our transitioning on biofuels has been a very impressive story. The setting up of a global biofuels alliance will help that,” the minister added.

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