Amid India-China border row, Australia to join Malabar naval exercise
The Defence Ministry on Monday announced that Australia will be joining the upcoming Malabar naval exercise, completing the Quad or quadrilateral coalition along with the United States and Japan. Notably, China has expressed concerns over the purpose of the exercise, alleging it is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region. India's announcement comes amid a months-long border row with China.
The Defence Ministry said in a statement on Monday, "As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defense cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy." "The exercise will strengthen the coordination between the navies of the participating countries," the Ministry added.
The annual naval exercise has been planned on a 'non-contact - at sea' format, the Ministry said. It is likely to be held in November in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The latest entrant, Australia, had been showing keen interest in joining the exercise the past few years. Japan and the US had also been pressing for the same.
The Malabar exercise started back in 1992 as a bilateral drill in the Indian Ocean between the US and the Indian Navy. In 2015, Japan became a permanent participant in the drill. Last year, the exercise was held off the coast of Japan. It had been conducted off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea the year before.