India on has 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 United States and Japan are the other countries that participate in the annual exercise, which is expected to take place next month in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
India's decision to pay attention to Australia's request to be part of the mega naval drill comes amid growing strain in ties with China over the border row in eastern Ladakh. According to the defence ministry statement, it is reported that since 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 witness the participation of the Australian Navy.
It is further reported that 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, according to the ministry release. China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise since it feels that the annual war game is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region. The Malabar exercise began in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the United State 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.