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No confrontation between Indian Naval ship and Chinese vessel: MEA

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Sept 2, IRNA -- India’s Ministry of External Affairs ruled out confrontation between an Indian Navy ship and a Chinese vessel off the coast of Vietnam in July 2011.

In response to questions on a report in a leading international daily, the Official Spokesperson on Thursday said: 'The Indian Naval vessel, INS Airavat paid a friendly visit to Vietnam between 19 to 28 July 2011.

On July 22, INS Airavat sailed from the Vietnamese port of Nha Trang towards Hai Phong, where it was to make a port call.

'At a distance of 45 nautical miles from the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea, it was contacted on open radio channel by a caller identifying himself as the 'Chinese Navy' stating that 'you are entering Chinese waters'.
No ship or aircraft was visible from INS Airavat, which proceeded on her onward journey as scheduled.'

The statement went on to say that 'there was no confrontation involving the INS Airavat.'

However, the ministry added that 'India supports freedom of navigation in international waters, including in the South China Sea, and the right of passage in accordance with accepted principles of international law. These principles should be respected by all.'

Earlier, the Indian Navy also on Thursday denied reports that a Chinese warship had confronted its assault vessel after it left Vietnamese waters in the disputed South China Sea in late July.

'The INS Airavat returned from its scheduled official deployment to Vietnam without any confrontation with a Chinese vessel,' Navy spokesperson Commander P V S Satish said in a release.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ma Zhaox, sought to obfuscate the issue by saying that inquiries have been made with the 'competent authorities' about the reported incident but so far no information has been received, pti reported.

Nor had China 'received any representation from any other country', he said, implying that no protest has been received from India in this regard.

According to London based Financial Times daily, a Chinese warship confronted INS Airavat shortly after it left Vietnamese waters in late July in the first such reported encounter between the navy's of the two countries in the disputed South China Sea.

The unidentified Chinese warship demanded that INS Airavat, an amphibious assault vessel identify itself and explain its presence in the South China Sea, the report said.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30545128

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