Australia floats interest in quadrilateral exercise

HMA Ships Broome and Bathurst & Darwin during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017, a join military exercise with key regional partners including Indonesia, Japan, India, Malaysia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Brunei, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Cambodia and the Federated States of Micronesia. Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

Frances Adamson, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, has reignited talks of Australia joining the Malabar naval exercise.

Speaking at a media round table while visiting India for the inaugural 2+2 Foreign Secretaries and Defence Secretaries Dialogue between India and Australia, Adamson said Australia is more than willing to join the exercise if invited by the other three participants.

"Australia, of course, stands very willing to join Malabar should we be invited to do so," Adamson said.

"But that invitation could only come from the other three."

The naval exercise was originally started by India and the US, with Japan becoming a permanent third member in 2015. Australia took part in the 2007 exercise but left after concerns were expressed by Beijing.

Australia's interest in the exercise has continued to increase as the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific region becomes more prominent. However, India rejected Australia's request to join earlier this year.

"Australia has regularly discussed the matter of the Royal Australian Navy's involvement in Exercise Malabar with India since 2015," a Defence spokesperson told the ABC in June.

Defence Minister Marise Payne also discussed Australia's interest in joining the naval exercise during a visit to Tokyo in April.

"Australia is very interested in a quadrilateral engagement with India, Japan and the United States," she said.

"What form that may take is a matter of discussion between our various countries."

Australia floats interest in quadrilateral exercise
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