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India to host 5-day naval exercise with U.S. carriers in September

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NEW DELHI, July 13 (RIA Novosti) - India, the U.S., Australia, Japan, and Singapore will hold a joint naval exercise in September with 20 ships, at least three of them aircraft carriers, the UNI India news agency said Friday.

The agency said, citing defense ministry sources, that U.S. aircraft carriers USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 and USS Nimitz CVN-68 and 17 other ships - destroyers, ASW ships, and nuclear- and diesel-powered submarines - would join India's R-22 Virat carrier for the five-day exercise in the Bay of Bengal.

The Nimitz's visit on July 3 to the port of Chennai in the south of India was overshadowed by local Muslim protests against U.S. policies in Iraq. The Communist Party, also an influential player in the state, Tamil Nadu, joined the demonstrations, accusing the government of cozying up to the U.S. without public debate or consultation.

After China expressed their apprehension over a similar exercise last year, Australia's defense minister Brendan Nelson reassured Beijing earlier this week, saying there were no plans to create a military alliance.

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