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Warships from Russia, US in Arabian Sea for Pak naval exercise

A Pak Navy frigate. File photo

ISLAMABAD (PTI): Pakistan is hosting warships from 36 countries, including Russia, China and the US, in the Arabian Sea for a naval exercise beginning Friday.

Codenamed Aman-17, the five-day-long exercise from February 10-14 will be held in the north Arabian Sea.

Russia has sent three ships for the exercise which, according to Pakistan Navy, is held every two years to raise awareness about naval affairs and improve coordination between different navies. Four ships from the US, and one each from Indonesia, Australia and Turkey will also participate.

Other participants of the exercise themed 'Together for peace' include China, Japan, Sri Lanka, the UK, and France.

Commander of the Pakistani Fleet, Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini said the exercise has helped navies to work together in eradicating terrorism, human, arms and drug trafficking.

He said Pakistani naval ships were also ensuring free sea trade in the Gulf of Aden.

"This region, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, is very important as well as complex. It is from here that the world's oil is transported," he added.

Asked about India focusing on increasing its naval assets, Hussaini said the Aman-17 exercise was aimed at promoting inter-operability and not at preparing for war.

Still, he said, Pakistan's navy can protect its waters and harbours. "We will ensure that our international interests are not jeopardised. We are not into escalating adventurism at sea. Pakistan is committed to international peace," he said.

He said such exercises have helped combat piracy in north Arabian Sea after Somali pirates caused lot of damage in the area.

A Pakistani naval official said warships from Russia, China and the US have arrived to take part in the exercise.

"Water salute was presented for the warships on reaching the Karachi port," he said, adding that it was mega event and the warships from 36 countries will take part in the exercise.

The exercise will feature ships, aircraft, helicopters, Special Operations Forces (SOF), Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD), marines and observers from different navies.

Pakistan has been organising such naval exercises since 2007 every alternate year. The current exercise is the fifth of the series.

Previous four exercise were held in 2001, 2009, 2011 and 2013. In 2015, only international maritime conference was held.

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