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Jaishankar, Blinken discuss ‘reckless’ Houthi attacks, Gaza aid

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and India's external affairs minister S Jaishankar

The US has welcomed “increased cooperation” with India in defending freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden amid growing Houthi attacks in the region.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday and discussed “shared concerns” over the reckless Houthi attacks in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Miller said the attacks “threaten the free flow of commerce, endanger innocent mariners, and violate international law”.

“The Secretary emphasised the Red Sea is a major commercial corridor that facilitates international trade and welcomed increased cooperation with India in defending freedom of navigation in the region,” Miller said.

The discussion came as the US and British militaries launched massive retaliatory strikes targeting a dozen sites used by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.

The two leaders also discussed the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, efforts to prevent the conflict’s escalation and increase the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

In a post shared on X on Thursday, Jaishankar said he appreciated Blinken’s insights on the ongoing situation in West Asia, including Gaza.

“A good discussion this evening with my friend US @SecBlinken. Our conversation focused on maritime security challenges, especially the Red Sea region. Appreciated his insights on ongoing situation in West Asia, including Gaza. Exchanged perspectives on developments pertaining to the Ukraine conflict. Looking forward to realising our extensive cooperation agenda for 2024,” Jaishankar added.

The Houthis — an Iran-backed Shia political and military organisation that has been fighting a civil war in Yemen against a coalition backed by Saudi Arabia — have launched drones and missiles at commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea since November 2023, many of which have been intercepted and shot down by US Navy ships in the area.

The rebel group has said that it is acting in support of Hamas’ fight against Israel in Gaza, following Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the US has conducted nearly 400 airstrikes in Yemen since 2002.

But White House and Pentagon officials have said since the Hamas attack that they do not want to see the conflict in Gaza expand into the region, according to a CNN report.