New Delhi: In a major development, Australia will be part of the annual Malabar exercises that will take place in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in November, announced the Ministry of Defence on Monday (October 19, 2020).

The official statement said, “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”

Malabar exercises will now have all four quad countries as part of the exercises namely the United States, India, Japan and Australia. 

The announcement comes weeks after Quad country foreign ministers met in person in Tokyo.

The exercise will be ‘non-contact – at sea’ format and will strengthen the coordination between the Navies of the participating countries, the Indian defence ministry release said.

Notably, the Malabar exercises started in 1992 as a bilateral Indian Navy-US Navy exercise and Japan joined the exercises in 2015. 

In 2018, the exercise took place off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea and in 2019 off the coast of Japan.

The Indian defence ministry said, “Participants of Exercise Malabar 2020 are engaging to enhance safety and security in the maritime domain.”

They added, “They collectively support free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and remain committed to a rules-based international order.”

The development will raise eyebrows in Beijing that sees coming together of the Quad countries suspiciously.

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