India laments being kept away from security of sea lanes in PG

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New Delhi, Feb 23 (UNI) India today criticised the attempts to keep it away from arrangements for security of sea lanes in the Persian Gulf (PG) area and called for close monitoring of the debate on involvement of some Western powers.

''The example of CTF 150 is suggestive of an inclination to keep India away from practical arrangements for security of sea lanes in this general area,'' Vice President Hamid Ansari said here.

The CTF-150 (Combined Task Force-150), a multi-national coalition naval task force comprising about 15 vessels, was established to monitor, inspect and stop suspect shipping in order to pursue War on Terror.

It includes operations in the North Arabia Sea to support Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and operations in the Indian Ocean to support Operation Enduring Freedom--Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA).

It incorporates vessels of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet under the Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander/Commander US Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain. The countries presently contributing to CTF-150 include Canada, France, Germany, Pakistan, United Kingdom and the United States. Other nations which have participated include Australia, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey.

In his inaugural address at the Seminar on 'India and the Gulf,' organised by the Association of Indian Diplomats, the Vice President said recent years had witnessed debates about an alternate security architecture for the Persian Gulf.

NATO had been proposed as an option while some regional states and opinion makers had ''gingerly'' suggested a role for larger Asian states like India and China.

The debate about smaller littoral states seeking security in the involvement of Western powers needed to be monitored closely, he said.

All these factors necessitated close and continuous study and rigorous research of the region, he said but regretted that this was not being done in adequate measure.

''The totality of India's interest demands that the 'Look East' policy be supplemented now by a 'Look West' policy,'' the Vice President added.

UNI RB SK AS1807

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