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Australia is strengthening its military cooperation with India and the two countries have common interests in the Indian Ocean region, which is an important area for Australia, Rear Admiral Jonathan Earley, commander of the the Australian fleet.

Rear Admiral Earley is on a four-day visit to India as part of the Indo-Pacific Endeavor (IPE), Australia’s flagship regional engagement activity. He also pointed to the challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region, including “big power muscle movements”, in a veiled indication of China’s expansionist policies in the region.

While addressing an issue related to China’s assertiveness in the region, the Rear Admiral expressed his understanding of India’s management of a large border with China.

As part of the third edition of the IPE, the Royal Australian Navy’s Anzac-class frigate HMAS Anzac and the Canberra-class ship HMAS Adelaide docked at Visakhapatnam two days ago.

The IPE aims to promote stability and security in the regions around Australia and involves bilateral and multilateral engagement, training and capacity building programmes. It is one of Australia’s major regional maritime engagements and as part of it, the country’s navy visits 14 countries in South East Asia and North East Ocean Indian from September to November.

The rear admiral said that the main objective of the IPE was to enable countries to operate freely and to respect international law and that the commitment was not aimed at any particular country.

The Navy Commander also announced that Australia is committed to making an effective contribution to humanitarian causes and security efforts in the Indo-Pacific region.

Regarding the growing security cooperation between China and its Australian neighbor Solomon Island, Rear Admiral Earley said Canberra respects the sovereign decision of any country.

“Solomon Islands is a sovereign country. It’s their decision who they want to engage with,” he said.

“We can help countries make informed decisions. But it’s up to them to decide,” he added.

India is concerned about China’s growing maneuvers in the Indian Ocean region and is now trying to strengthen defense and security ties in the region with courtiers with similar concerns.

Defense ties between India and Australia have grown stronger over the past few years and the two countries elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership in June 2020. They also signed a landmark agreement on reciprocal access to military bases for logistical support.

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the militaries of both countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, as well as to facilitate the expansion of global cooperation in the field of defense.

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