Yemeni conflict a threat to global trade: India

United Nations, July 24 (IANS) India has expressed concern over the serious economic impact of the fighting in Yemen on global trade and urged the warring groups to get to the negotiating table.

Addressing a Security Council debate on the Middle East, Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji said, “With major shipping lines passing through the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb the situation in Yemen has a considerable impact on the cost of shipping and in turn the regional and global trade.”

Besides creating a humanitarian crisis, the Yemeni conflicts “impose serious economic costs for the region and the whole world,” he said. “We, therefore, urge all parties in Yemen to return to the negotiating table forthwith.”

Rebel Houthis have been fighting the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf States.

Yemen is located strategically on the maritime cross-roads linking the rest of Asia to the energy-exporting Middle East and beyond to Europe.

In February, the Houthis drove Hadi into exile, but after sustained aerial bombardment by the Saudi coalition, supporters of the exiled president took back the crucial port city of Aden last week.

Mukerji condemned the attacks on UN peacekeepers by terrorists in the Middle East and called for prosecuting them. “Only such action endorsed by the Council will deter such groups in other parts of the world from committing acts of terror,” he said.

He reiterated India’s endorsement of the agreement between Iran and the five Security Council permanent members along with Germany. “India has maintained that diplomatic dialogue is the only effective way to resolve issues,” he added.

About “the activities of proscribed outfits, radicalized and extremist groups” in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria, Mukerji said, “We believe the consolidation of political processes and solutions while building durable state institutions will be the effective way of addressing such extremism and radicalism in the region.”

Mukerji reaffirmed India’s support for “a sovereign, independent, viable and a united State of Palestine within secure and recognized borders side-by-side and at peace with Israel with East Jerusalem as its capital.” This puts at rest media speculations that India was cooling off in its support of Palestinian nationhood.

As India and Israel draw closer with a visit to Israel by Narendra Modi — the first-ever by an Indian Prime Minister — slated for this year, Mukerji took a measured approach to conflict between Palestinians and Israel. In contrast, many nonaligned countries had harsh words for Israel.

Calling for a return to the peace process, Mukerji said, “We are particularly worried that since last year there has been a downward trend in the Peace Process despite efforts for serious negotiations between the parties which remained inconclusive. Unilateral actions by the parties unfortunately are moving them further apart.”

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

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