INDIA has turned down an offer to join Australian warships in a naval exercise with the United States, citing fears of antagonising China.
According to reports by DNA India and Reuters, Beijing has previously warned about expanding the joint Malabar naval drills which it has conducted with the US since 1992, with Japan joining in 2014.
Australian officials made a formal request to New Delhi earlier this year, offering to send vessels to participation in the July war games which involves dozens of ships, submarines and aircraft.
India has denied the request, but Reuters reports it has offered to allow Royal Australian Navy observers to watch from the ships of the three participating nations.
The war games traditionally extend through waters reaching from the South China Sea through to the Bay of Bengal.
New Delhi and Canberra have been watching China’s increased military activities in the Indian Ocean in recent years with growing concern.
Chinese submarines have in recent years begun visiting Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
“India is being careful about China,” said Abhijit Singh, a former Indian navy officer who heads maritime studies at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, told DNA India.
“India is aware they have upped their maritime engagement in this part of the world and they could just become more brazen with their submarine deployments. We don’t want that to happen.”
Online Source: news.com.au