23-05-2016

US helped India remove ship from UN’s Libya sanction list

DistyaAmeya

The UN Security Council's decision to remove from a sanctions list an Indian ship accused of loading illicit crude from eastern Libya is being talked about as the latest byword for global India-US strategic cooperation.

India-flagged tanker Distya Ameya, chartered by a UAE-based firm, was removed from the sanctions list of a UNSC committee concerning Libya in exactly 16 days, which is being seen as an unparalleled achievement for Indian authorities. The inside story, as learnt by TOI from top sources, reveals hectic diplomacy featuring US diplomats working in conjunction with their Indian counterparts in Washington, New York and Delhi to ensure that the Indian asset wasn't frozen.

The US, in fact, helped India prevail upon the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya to withdraw its complaint against the ship and this resulted in the removal of Distya Ameya from the sanctions list in record time.

Any oil loaded without the approval of Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation is deemed illegal by international authorities. Distya Ameya though had loaded 650,000 barrels of oil from the Al-Hareega port in Tobruk, which is not under the control of the new Libyan government based in Tripoli, and was on its way to Malta where it intended to discharge the oil. Sources said as soon as the UN issued a press release on April 27 saying it had added the tanker to the sanctions list, the US took up the matter with India saying the ship had to adhere to international laws which are meant to ensure the "credibility and stability'' of Libyan oil.

It helped that India and the US were holding high-level foreign office consultations in Washington when news broke about the ship and the Americans quickly brought up the issue there. India's permanent mission in New York, which was coordinating with US authorities, worked with DG Shipping to ensure that the ship immediately sailed back to Libya and offloaded the oil. Those commanding the ship were initially reluctant to return, as they insisted that they even had an approval from the Libyan prime minister. Eventually, though, they decided to sail back to Libya and unloaded the oil at Zawiya port in the western part of the country, as asked by the GNA, or the unity government.

The challenge still was to convince the government in Tripoli, which has not yet been able to establish control in eastern Libya, to acknowledge that the ship had no concealed motive in loading and transporting oil from the eastern Libya port. The US helped India persuade Libyan authorities into formally withdrawing its complaint to the UN.

The Indian flagged tanker is owned by Mumbai-based Arya Shipping. Indian authorities had to convince the Libyan government that the "foreign charterers'' and Indian owners and managers of the ship were unaware of the UN sanction on export of Libyan oil.

After the oil was discharged at the Zawiya port, India's permanent mission to the UN in New York issued a note verbale to the UNSC apprising it of the "positive developments in the compliance of order''.

"The vessel Distya Ameya was listed pursuant to the resolution as transporting crude oil illicitly exported from Libya, based on information received from the government of Libya," United Nations Sanctions Committee had said in its order of April 27.

As the government had announced earlier, the UN on May 12 formally lifted the sanction on the Indian vessel. The ship, it said, was now completely free to resume its normal sailing and carry on its commercial operations.

Source: TOI

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