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US May Join Japan-India Drills

File photo of the Japanese navy in action. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) March 05, 2007
The United States may join Japan and India when the two Asian nations conduct their first joint naval drills this year in the Pacific, an official said Monday. Japan, which has been seeking to boost ties with India to counter frequent tension with China, agreed at a December summit to hold naval exercises with New Delhi in 2007.

"We are coordinating joint sea drills with India sometime this year, following last year's summit between the two prime ministers," said a spokesman for Japan's defence ministry.

"It is unclear at this point whether the United States will participate in the drill," said the spokesman, who did not rule out the possibility.

He was responding to a report in the Tokyo Shimbun that the United States has taken an initiative to hold three-way exercises with Japan and India in April.

The drill is likely to focus on safety measures to be taken in the event of a major natural disaster in the Pacific such as a tsunami, it said.

The report came a day after China announced its defence budget would soar by 17.8 percent in 2007, eliciting concern in both Washington and Tokyo.

The Japanese spokesman denied the drill was linked to China, saying: "We are not targeting one country in particular as an enemy to contain."

Japan and India already hold coast guard exercises.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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