Lift 'no fly zone' restriction: India urges Saudi Arabia

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New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, March 29: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has urged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to persuade Saudi Arabia to lift the ban on flying through its air space to help stranded Indians in Yemen fly home, said a Kerala minister.

Minister of Diaspora K.C. Joseph told IANS that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was told this when he had a talk with Sushma Swaraj.

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"We are told that things have calmed down a bit and yesterday (Saturday) the airport was opened for a few hours. A flight carrying 90 Indians, including 15 Kerala nurses, has departed from there. The Kerala nurses will arrive from Doha tomorrow (Monday) morning at Kochi airport," said Joseph.

"We are in touch with the Indian Embassy officials in Yemen and they have said that every day the airport will be kept open for a few hours. In order to make use of that, we have to get permission from Saudi Arabia to use their air space for which India has got in touch with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to prevail upon Saudi Arabia. Once we get that permission, India will send aircraft to evacuate our people," added Joseph.

There are no exact figures of the number of Indians, including Keralites, who are waiting to fly out from troubled Yemen.

Both the Kerala and central governments are in touch with the Indian Embassy and have asked them to ensure that if people are able to produce any document to show that they are Indians, they should be given an exit permit from Yemen.

IANS

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