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Concerned over targeting of commercial vessels in Red Sea: Govt

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) India supports freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and it has voiced concerns over targeting of commercial ships in the region impacting trade and endangering the lives of crew of the vessels, the government said in Lok Sabha on Friday.

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Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said India is closely monitoring the developments in the region.

"India supports the principle of freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and has expressed concern at the instances of targeting of commercial vessels in the Red Sea impacting our trade/commercial linkages and endangering the lives of crew and ships," he said in a written reply.

"India is closely monitoring the developments in the region. The Indian Navy is deployed in the Indian Ocean Region towards safety of vessels and seafarers at sea," he said.

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Asked whether the government is considering designating the Yemen-based Houthi militant group as a terrorist organisation, Muraleedharan did not give a direct reply.

"Designation of an organisation as terrorist is covered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and declaring any organisation as terrorist is considered as per the provisions of the Act by the relevant government departments," he said.

"The government of India recognises the internationally recognised government of Yemen based in Aden," he said.

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In the last few weeks, the Indian Navy extended assistance to a number of merchant vessels in the Arabian Sea following attacks on them.

Last week, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said in Lok Sabha that the Indian Navy has enhanced deployment of ships and aerial surveillance in the central Arabian Sea and off east Coast of Somalia to restore maritime security in the region.

There has been mounting global concerns over Houthi militants continuing to attack various cargo vessels in the Red Sea and other strategic waterways in the region apparently in response to Israel's military offensive in Gaza. PTI MPB ZMN

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