India, US, Japan kick off naval drills likely to annoy China

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India, Japan and the United States will hold joint naval exercises each year, Indian government sources said on Monday, as the three countries kicked off the first such drills in the Bay of Bengal in eight years, a move likely to concern China.
The last time New Delhi hosted multilateral drills in its waters in 2007 prompted disquiet in China where some saw it as a US -inspired security grouping on the lines of NATO in Europe.
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signaled a more robust security policy, seeking stronger strategic ties with the United States and Japan while keeping a lid on border tensions with China.
The United States is deploying the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and a nuclear-powered submarine in the week-long exercises that the Indian navy said will cover the full spectrum of maneuvers.
“These exercises are all-encompassing, starting from one spectrum to the other including anti-piracy operations, board, search and seize and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” said Indian navy spokesman Captain D.K.Sharma.
The decision to expand the Malabar exercises that the US and India conduct each year to include Japan comes days after a Pentagon official said it was considering sailing warships close to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea.

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