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India ‘approves’ Japanese plane landing for Ukrainian aid, MEA rejects claims it was denied

Source : The Print

India ‘approves’ Japanese plane landing for Ukrainian aid, MEA rejects claims it was denied
File photo of MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi addressing a press conference | Credit: ANI

India Thursday said it has “processed and approved” the landing of a Japanese transport flight in Mumbai to carry humanitarian aid for war-torn Ukraine, rejecting claims that it had refused permission.

“We had received a request from Japan for permission to land in Mumbai to pick up humanitarian supplies from UNHCR depot for Ukraine and its neighbouring countries. We have conveyed our approval for picking of such supplies from India using commercial aircraft,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said Thursday.

“We had also received a request for overflight clearance for Japanese SDF (Self-Defence Force) aircraft carrying humanitarian cargo for Ukraine. This was processed and approved as per established norms,” Bagchi added.

The clarification came after a Japanese government official from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party reportedly said India has refused to let the SDF flight land in India, forcing Tokyo to change its plan.

According to local media reports, the Japanese government decided to send an SDF flight and not a commercial flight because that was the demand made by the Ukraine government.

The flight is supposed to pick up the aid, currently piled up in the UNHCR’s India depot, and then travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the same reason, before delivering it to Ukraine’s neighbours Poland and Romania.

The Japanese cabinet was to approve the plan this week.

When asked about the Japanese government official’s comment, Bagchi said, “I am hesitant to comment on somebody else’s comments that I might not have fully seen”.

According to sources in the Ministry of Defence, such permissions are given by the MEA, unless it is “defence-to-defence dealing”.

Sources also said the defence ministry has no role to play in giving or not giving permission for any kind of incoming military or commercial aircraft for humanitarian purposes.

The Japanese government decided to send SDF aircraft earlier this week. According to the plan, C2 transport planes or other SDF aircraft will be flying out with aid for Ukraine once every week starting this month. Tokyo has decided to send 10 such flights.

Japan and India are partners in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (commonly known as the ‘Quad’) along with the US and Australia. Tokyo is expected to hold the next round of the Quad Summit on 24 May.

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