India engages with Iran to keep Strait of Hormuz safe

India engages with Iran to keep Strait of Hormuz safe

India was a key participant at a special meeting in Tehran this week on Hormuz Peace Initiative, which seeks stability in one of the world’s busiest and strategically located shipping lanes amid escalating US-Iran tensions.

The initiative, led by Iran to stabilise the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway for a significant amount of global oil supplies, saw participation from key regional players including Oman and India besides Afghanistan and China, officials in the know told ET.

Two-thirds of the oil and half the liquefied natural gas India imports come through the strait between Iran and Oman. As much as 18 million barrels of oil pass through the Strait of Hormuz every day, accounting for one-third of the global oil trade. A third of the world’s LNG trade also passes through the strait.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points. On the north coast lies Iran, and on the south are the UAE and Musandam, an enclave of Oman. The strait is about 90 nautical miles (167 km) long, with a width varying from about 52 nautical miles to 21 nautical miles.

New Delhi has engaged with stakeholders in the Gulf and beyond to stabilise the Strait of Hormuz amid the US-Iran confrontation since Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. Stability of Strait of Hormuz figured prominently during foreign minister S Jaishankar’s recent visits to Tehran and Muscat.

The January 6-7 meeting reviewed the latest developments in the Persian Gulf region and evaluated the regional cooperation plans under the ‘Hormuz Peace Endeavor’ (HOPE), proposed by Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani presented the initiative while delivering a speech at his UN General Assembly meeting in September and invited all regional countries to participate in it.

According to Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, Tehran’s proposal is aimed at enhancing solidarity, mutual understanding as well as peaceful and friendly relations among countries in the region in order to guarantee the territorial integrity and political independence of regional states. Last June, two oil tankers in the strait were damaged by explosions, an attack seen as a response to the US tightening its sanctions on Iran. The US blamed Iran for the attacks, which the latter denied. Since then, Indian ships have taken the assistance of the Indian Navy to safely pass through the waterway.

By: ET