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Indian And US Navies Hold Biggest-Ever War Games, Avoid nuclear issues

The 10-day event codenamed "Malabar" began when the 1,092-foot (333-metre) aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (pictured) led two American Aegis-class destroyers into Indian waters on Sunday.

Goa, India (AFP) Sep 27, 2005
The biggest-ever joint naval exercises between India and the United States went into high gear Tuesday but the war games in the Arabian Sea steered clear of thorny issues such as simulated nuclear combat, officials said.

The 10-day event codenamed "Malabar" began when the 1,092-foot (333-metre) aircraft carrier USS Nimitz led two American Aegis-class destroyers into Indian waters on Sunday.

"One part of our war games was over when the two navies met at mid-sea when the exercises began and now we are engaging in comprehensive manoevers," Indian Navy spokesman Captain A.K. Lambhate said in India's western resort of Goa, a nerve centre for the exercises.

The nuclear-powered Nimitz, which carries 40 jets and 6,000 crew and is armed with RAM and Sparrow missile launchers, is the first US carrier to take part in joint exercises with nations outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"This is a great mission as it enhances mutual confidence-building measures, streamlines procedures for the future and will help both countries across a wide canvas," said Lambhate, as the ships practised anti-submarine warfare.

The joint exercise is the eighth in a series between the two navies and involves F-18 Hornets from the US side and British-designed Sea Harriers, which Tuesday flew several sorties from the deck of India's solitary aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

An unspecified number of German-designed submarines backed the Indian fleet, an official said by telephone from the decks of a participating Indian missile destroyer.

"Activities such as interdiction, information exchange, anti-piracy and operations to halt unauthorised transportation of weapons are under way but NBC (nuclear, biological chemical warfare exercises) is not on the agenda," said another official, who did not want to be named.

"These still remain a thorny issue with them (the US)," he added.

The United States imposed sanctions including restrictions on transfer of dual-use technology after India conducted nuclear weapons tests in May 1998.

Washington eased some of the sanctions after India pledged its support to its global campaign against terrorism following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Indian naval spokesman Lambhate said the major action was still to come.

"(From) 30th September onwards the major part of the exercises will commence and will continue until the exercises end on October 4. There'll be a lot of activity in that period," he said without elaborating.

Washington has held several joint military exercises with Indian defense forces over the past three to four years.

The United States and India signed a landmark agreement in January to share advanced technology, including for peaceful nuclear applications.

In June defense ministers of India and the United States signed a 10-year accord paving the way for joint weapons production, cooperation on missile defense and the possible lifting of remaining US export controls on sensitive military technologies. Related Links
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Corridors Of Power: Return Of Diplomacy
Washington (UPI) Sep 27, 2005
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