New Delhi: India on Monday announced that Australia will join the upcoming Malabar exercise which effectively means that all the four-member countries of the ‘Quad’ or Quadrilateral coalition will be participating in the mega drill.
The US and Japan are the other countries that participate in the annual exercise, which is likely to take place next month in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
India’s decision to heed to Australia’s request to be part of the mega naval drill comes in the midst of growing strain in ties with China over the border row in eastern Ladakh.
“As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defence cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
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It said the exercise has been planned on a ‘non-contact – at sea’ format.
“The exercise will strengthen the coordination between the navies of the participating countries,” the ministry said.
China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise as it feels that the annual war game is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent participant in the exercise in 2015.
For the last few years, Australia has been showing keen interest in joining the exercise.