New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday said that the central government was continuously monitoring the transit of USS John Paul Jones while it conducted a freedom of navigation operation near Lakshadweep Islands on Wednesday "without New Delhi's prior consent" and has raised its concerns to the United States through diplomatic channels.

"India 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 MEA said in a release.

Earlier in the day, the US Navy said that it conducted an operation near the Lakshadweep Islands on Wednesday without India's prior consent to challenge the country's "excessive" maritime claims.

A statement issued by the Commander of the US seventh fleet said that the operation was conducted by guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones on April 7.

"On April 7, 2021 (local time) USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) 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," the statement said.

India requires that other countries should take prior consent from it to conduct military exercises or manoeuvres in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, which the US Navy statement claimed was inconsistent with international law.

"This freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India's excessive maritime claims," it said.

US forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, the statement said.

"We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future. FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements," it added.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma