Australia has sent two warships to take part in French-led naval training with other members of the so-called Quad – the United States, India and Japan.
The French-led “La Perouse” war game will be conducted in the Bay of Bengal between April 5 and 7. The Australian anti-submarine warfare frigate HMAS Anzac will take part along with the supply ship HMAS Sirius.
The exercise comes as relations between Beijing and Paris plumb new depths. China’s ambassador to France snubbed a diplomatic summons after an intense “wolf warrior” attack on critics of the Chinese Communist Party’s policies.
The annual three-day event in the Bay of Bengal is the first exercise since the Quad leaders met for a virtual summit last month.
Analysts consider the exercise, known as La Perouse, a portent of things to come as Quad nations look for regional partners to help contain China in the Indo-Pacific.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the exercise highlighted the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships in the region.
“Exercise La Perouse will also demonstrate the complementary capability of our partner nations and highlight our shared commitment to a stable and secure Indo-Pacific,” Mr Dutton said on Monday.
More than 260 Royal Australian Navy personnel will take part.
“Exercising with other navies strengthens our collective mariner skills and re-affirms our commitment to maintaining robust working relationships with our partners in the region,” Rear Admiral Mark Hammond said.
“By training together we learn from one another, and we look forward to showing our partner navies what skills we bring to Exercise La Perouse.”
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