Australia will participate in the Malabar naval exercise, involving the United States, Japan and India, to bring the four key partners in the Indo-Pacific region together next month, according to a statement issued by the Australian government.
In a significant move that comes amid a Sino-India border row, India on Monday announced Australia's participation in the upcoming Malabar exercise along with the US and Japan, effectively making it the first military-level engagement between the four-member nation grouping -- the Quad.
The invitation by India to the Australian navy for the exercise next month came two weeks after the foreign ministers of the Quad held extensive talks in Tokyo with a focus on enhancing their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, a region that has been witnessing increasing Chinese military assertiveness.
Issuing the joint statement with Autralian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the announcement was another important step in Australia's deepening relationship with India. The federal government said that following an invitation from India, Australia will participate in the Malabar exercise. The exercise will bring together four key regional defence partners India, Japan, the United States and Australia in November, it said.
Reynolds said Malabar-2020 marked a milestone opportunity for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). "High-end military exercises like MALABAR are key to enhancing Australia's maritime capabilities, building interoperability with our close partners, and demonstrating our collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific," Reynolds said.
Foreign Minister Payne said that the Malabar exercise also "showcases the deep trust between four major Indo-Pacific democracies and their shared will to work together on common security interests".
"This builds on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, to which Prime Minister (Scott) Morrison and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi agreed on June 4, 2020, and which I progressed with my counterpart, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, this month when we met in Tokyo," she said.
"It will bolster the ability of India, Australia, Japan and the United States to work together to uphold peace and stability across our region," Payne asserted.
Participation in the naval exercise demonstrates Australia's enduring commitment to enhancing regional security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increasing the capability and inter-operability of the ADF, she said. Australia last participated in Exercise MALABAR in 2007.