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Joint naval exercise between India and Australia to counter maritime terror

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A file photo.

PORT BLAIR (PTI): Australia's diplomatic relations with India may have come under strain over recent racial attack on Indians there, but the military relations is soaring to new heights, with their navy looking at a joint task force in Asia-Pacific region to combat the terror and other threats.

"It (Indo-Australian military ties) is a very important relationship. Both the countries are very close to each other, especially the military. What's been happening back home will not come in the way of the relations. It is going to continue to develop," Lt Cdr Shane Doolin, the commanding officer of the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Glenelg, a patrol boat, told visiting Indian journalists on board his ship here Sunday.

Glenelg, an Armidale class boat, is here for the five-day Milan-2010 naval exercise being hosted by the Indian Navy and attended by navies from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore.

"This (Milan) is a joint exercise of navies from the region (South Asia, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand). Piracy, terrorism, gun-running, drug smuggling and illegal immigration were part of the table-top exercise this time, apart from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR). We are looking at the possibility of a joint task force of all the 13 navies from this region against these scourges," Cdr Doolin said.

"It is the obligation of all the nations to participate in anti-piracy and counter terrorism operations. All these nations can contribute in this," he added.

Cdr Doolin said with the Asia-Pacific region being prone to natural disasters, it was important for all the navies to come together to provide necessary assistance to the affected countries. "During Tsunami, 30 countries participated in HADR in the region. It is important to know each other so that we know whom to contact when help is needed or given. We are partners in the region," he said.

Noting that the region had "suffered its cost of tragedy," he said navies of the participating countries can respond to each other's disaster "quicker than anybody else"

On India playing a major role in maritime security of Indian Ocean Region, the Australian ship's commanding officer said Australia welcomed it, adding, being the largest navy in the region, it had the responsibility.

He also appreciated the role played by India in the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and said 30 other countries had their warships there for the same purpose.

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