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Indian warships to stay longer in Persian Gulf to protect merchant ships

Christian Fernsby |
Indian warships escorting merchant vessels in the Persian Gulf will remain deployed for the longer term.

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But the two ships, backed by surveillance aircraft, will not be part of a military coalition that the United States is assembling to safeguard the waters off Iran near the Straits of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world's oil moves, the two officials said, Reuters reported.

Since June following attacks on tankers that the United States blamed on Iran and Iran-aligned fighters, a charged Tehran denies, the Indian navy ships have been escorting Indian-flagged vessels in and out of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

"This is not going to stop, the situation being what it is, we will be there for the foreseeable future," said an official with knowledge of naval deployments.

India's navy, which has traditionally operated closer to home waters, has over past year or so begun deployments across the Indian Ocean stretching from the Malacca Strait in Southeast Asia to waters off Africa, largely as a response to China's expanding weight across the region.

But the maritime operation in the Gulf is also to heed U.S. President Donald Trump's call that major buyers of Middle East oil protect their own tankers, a second Indian official with knowledge of India's policy on the region said.

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