New Delhi, March 20: India has rejected China’s request to allow four of its warships to enter Indian waters to search for the Malaysian Airlines plane missing since March 8, contending that the Indian Navy search operations are adequate.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy also asked India for permission to travel through its waters to reach the Indian Ocean east and south of the Maldives. But India has turned down both requests, senior officials said.
The disclosure came on a day Australia spoke of “probably the best lead” yet in the hunt for the plane, saying satellite imagery had detected floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean. But officials also counselled caution about the sighting until conclusive evidence was found. ( )
China, home to more than 150 of the 239 people on board MH370, had asked India to allow its warships to join the search for the plane in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. “We already have four of our own ships searching the Andaman Sea and near the Maldives,” an Indian official said.
New Delhi is also cautious about allowing Chinese ships into its waters near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where the Indian military establishment has its eastern-most posts. New Delhi does not want Chinese frigates near the Maldives, close to the Indian coast.
New Delhi has told Beijing that Chinese ships that want to reach the southern Indian Ocean — where Australia is searching for possible debris — can travel on standard trade routes that do not enter Indian waters.