USS John Paul Jones ship
USS John Paul Jones ship
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Washington: The US Navy carried out a freedom of navigation operation in the Indian waters near Lakshadweep Islands on Wednesday without New Delhi's prior consent to challenge India's "excessive" maritime claims, according to an official statement.

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 prior consent for military exercises or manoeuvres in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim the statement said 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.

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