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Indian navy to host multi-nation exercise this week

(Xinhua)

14:22, January 31, 2012

NEW DELHI, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Indian Navy will host a six- day multi-nation exercise from Wednesday off the strategic Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, local media reported Tuesday.

Warships and delegations from 14 countries of the Asia-Pacific region would be taking part in the "Milan" exercise which will focus on countering maritime terrorism, piracy and poaching as well as search and rescue operations and capacity building, the Times of India quoted officials as saying.

The participants include Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Maldives, the Seychelles and Mauritius.

"Milan basically is a biennial conglomeration of Asia-Pacific navies, hosted by the Indian Navy, to foster bonds of 'friendship across the seas', boost interoperability and share views on common maritime issues. From four navies in 1995, it has grown to include 14 navies now," an official said.

An important priority in the Asia-Pacific region is the protection of sea lanes around Malacca Strait since around 60,000 ships sail through it every year, transporting around 30 percent of the world trade in goods.

For India, the stakes are clearly high, with the strategic Andaman and Nicobar Islands dominating the approaches to Malacca Strait, the report said.

"India's central location in Indian Ocean, astride these major commercial routes and energy lifelines, makes us a major stakeholder in the region's security and stability," said the officer.

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