12:13 GMT04 August 2021
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India hopes to pursue joint defence-related initiatives with “friendly” countries during the biennial Naval Exercise “Milan” in the Indian Ocean. The naval drills will also include structured interactions involving staff and steering groups.

    Naval Exercise Milan 2020 will be held off the coast of the Indian city of Vishakhapatnam in March 2020, the country’s Deputy Defence Minister Shripad Naik said on Monday.

    The Indian Navy will host naval officers and sailors from 41 nations, including the US, Russia, France, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Sudan, Israel, Qatar, Thailand, Australia, Kenya and Egypt. China has not been extended an invitation to take part in the event.

    "The government pursues cooperation initiatives with friendly foreign countries, including in the Indian Ocean region… the areas of cooperation include capacity building, marine domain awareness, training, hydrography, technical assistance, operational exercises etc.," Naik informed members of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament during the Question Hour.

    Earlier this month, a three-day Mid-Planning Conference (MPC) for Exercise Milan 2020 was organised at the Eastern Naval Command headquarters in Visakhapatnam, attended by 29 delegates from 17 foreign navies.

    Participating countries were briefed about the harbour and sea phase of Exercise Milan 2020 during the conference.

    The multilateral biennial naval exercise is usually held under the supervision of the Andaman and Nicobar Command of the Indian Navy, which is the first and only tri-service theatre command of the Indian Armed Forces. Headquartered at Port Blair, this naval command was created in 2001 to safeguard India's strategic interests in Southeast Asia, East Asia, The Strait of Malacca and the Pacific Ocean.

    This is the 11th time that Exercise Milan will be held since 1995. Also, this is the first time that the exercise will be conducted at Eastern Naval Command with increased scope and complexity.



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