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India says situation in Red Sea ‘matter of concern’, closely monitoring : EAM

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NEW DELHI : India on Thursday dubbed the security situation in the Red Sea as a “matter of concern”, adding that it is closely watching the developments in the critical sea lanes in the region.

“It is a matter of concern to us. We give a lot of importance to freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce in that region,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said during a weekly media brief. “Whatever is happening there not just impacts us, but it impacts economic interests and several other interests of so many people across the world.”

The remarks come hours after India’s guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam rescued the crew of a merchant vessel which came under a drone attack in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday night.

About five to six armed people boarded the vessel, according to a report received by the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency. According to the Indian navy all 21 crew on board, including 15 Indians, have been evacuated. No pirates were found.

The incident was the latest in a series of drone and pirate attacks on merchant vessels in the region including the Red Sea and parts of the Arabian Sea.

The rising number of attacks by Yemen’s Houthis in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, key trading routes, have triggered global concerns. The Houthi rebels have declared their support for Hamas saying they are targeting commercial ships travelling to Israel using drones and rockets.

The situation has forced mariners to change course and take longer routes around the southern tip of Africa.

The US and the UK have already launched air strikes targeting the Houthi positions in Yemen.

Last week, during his visit to Tehran, External Affairs Minister Shri S Jaishankar discussed the situation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

“We are deeply concerned about the whole situation. It is an important shipping lane for not just India but for the world. We have our interests there which are being impacted,” he said.

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