The Narendra Modi government has invited Australia for the annual Malabar naval exercises next month with the United States and Japan already confirming their participation. The move is expected to further lay the foundations for the eventual formalization of the QUAD grouping. The Malabar Exercises will be taking place in two stages in the Bay of Bengal; the 2019 exercise took place from September 26 to October 4 off the coast of Japan. The naval exercise featuring the QUAD partners will be held on November 3-6 and November 17-20. The shared objective of all four countries is free and open navigation in Indo-Pacific. The decision to invite Australia was announced by the Modi Government on Monday.
“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 defence ministry announced in a statement. This year, 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. The exercise comes after the QUAD Foreign Ministers meeting in Tokyo on October 6 and will follow shortly after the India-US two plus two dialogue on October 26-27 during which the geo-spatial agreement called BECA is expected to be signed by the two countries.