15:42 GMT04 June 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Further strengthening its dominant position in the Indian Ocean Region, India is set to sign a crucial agreement which will enable it to do round-the-clock monitoring of ships passing through the ocean's waters. The Indian Navy has already said that China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean is a major challenge for India.

    Ahead of undertaking a three-day visit to the southern African country of Mozambique, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that the two countries will sign agreements in the fields of "exclusive economic zone surveillance, sharing of white shipping information and hydrography".

    Under the white shipping information agreement, India can receive relevant advance information on the identity and movement of commercial non-military merchant vessels.

    But this information will come in handy for tracking Chinese movements. In the past, China has claimed to have deployed its guided missile destroyers, submarines, and frigates for anti-piracy missions.

    Nevertheless, the Indian Navy has been working with several countries in the region to achieve complete Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) by setting up or exchanging information through radar stations and surveillance systems in more than a dozen countries.

    The two agreements will also strengthen the Indian Navy in terms of being able to secure the seas from pirates.

    The visit, commencing on 28 July, will push India's SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) initiative, which has been initiated to lead maritime security and stability.

    Singh has said that the signing of these agreements will further strengthen and expand bilateral defence cooperation with the southeast African country, bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east.

    A day after a Chinese white paper on defence spoke of increasing the expenditure on their navy, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said on Thursday China’s focus on its naval forces is “nothing new” and that the Indian Navy has to watch how it can match China's “intent”, given its limited budget and resources.

    The Chinese white paper notes: "The PLA actively promotes international security and military cooperation and refines relevant mechanisms for protecting China’s overseas interests. To address deficiencies in overseas operations and support, it builds far seas forces, develops overseas logistical facilities, and enhances capabilities in accomplishing diversified military tasks".

    The Indian Navy has already admitted on several occasions that China's growing presence in the northern part of the Indian Ocean is a major challenge for India, but New Delhi is keeping a close eye on the deployment of Chinese ships and submarines in the region.

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    Tags:
    Gulf of Aden, PLA, warships, Africa, Indian Ocean, China, Mozambique, India
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