India on Monday announced that Australia would be included in the upcoming Malabar naval exercise, following the recently-concluded discussions at the Quad foreign ministers meet in Tokyo early this month.
The exercise, featuring all four QUAD partners—India, Australia, Japan and the US—will be held on November 3-6 and November 17-20. New Delhi made it clear that the shared objective of all four countries is free and open navigation in the Indo-Pacific.
"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 ministry of defence said in a statement.
The Malabar series of Naval exercises began in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between navies of India and the US. Japan joined the Naval exercise in 2015.
This annual exercise was conducted off the Guam coast in the Philippine Sea in 2018 and off Japan's coast in 2019. This year, it is expected to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
An MoD official said that the exercise is being planned as a ‘non-contact - at sea’ format.
"The exercise will strengthen the coordination between the Navies of the participating countries," officials said while adding that the participants of Exercise Malabar 2020 are engaging to enhance safety and security in the maritime domain.
South Block, which houses the ministry of defence, added that they collectively support the idea of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and remain committed to a rules-based international order.