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Malabar naval exercise not aimed at containing China: Pentagon

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Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) work together to raise the jack-staff as the ship arrives in Chennai for a port visit. McCampbell is participating in Malabar 2013. Photo: US Navy.

WASHINGTON (PTI): The annual India-US bilateral Malabar naval exercise which kicked off on Thursday in the Asia Pacific region is not aimed at containing China, the Pentagon has said.

"It has absolutely no relations anything to do with China.

If anything it is strengthening the US naval presence in the Pacific Ocean region...and maritime partnership with our allies," a Pentagon official told reporters.

"It is totally a routine exercise with no relations to China," the official said.

The wargames this year has Japan as an special invitee.

China had in the past raised objections over Japan's participation in the drills held mainly between US and India.

The last exercise involving Japan was held in 2009.

The official said the participating countries are working with specific training exercises such as communication, search and rescue, helicopter cross deck evolutions and anti-submarine welfare.

Over 7,000 American defence personnel are participating in the exercise and also includes nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, Ticonderoga-class destroyer USS Shiloh, Arleigh Burke-class destroyer John S McCain and nuclear submarine USS Columbus.

It also includes P-3 Orion aircraft and MH-60R helicopters.

India has sent its three warships -- INS Ranvijay and Shivalik along with fleet support tanker ship INS Shakti.

Responding to a question on Japanese participation, the official said it strengthens the partnership with them.

"It also promotes India's growing navy as they expand beyond their own areas of influence, in the Pacific Ocean and not just their own home area of the Indian Ocean," she said.

India and the US have held 17 editions of the Malabar-series wargames since 1992 and had involved Japan, Australia and Singapore in 2007 in the Pacific Ocean after which the Chinese government raised objections.

India had stopped involving others but last year after the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Japan and the reciprocal visit by the Japanese Prime Minister, India agreed to have Japan in these drills.

The three Indian warships taking part in the wargames earlier held exercises with the Russian Navy in Vladivostok last week.

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US  India  Navy  Malabar  China  
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