Navies of Australia, Singapore and Myanmar would be among 17 maritime forces participating in the biennial Milan exercise being organised by Indian Navy in the Anadaman and Nicobar Islands. "While 14 foreign navies participated in its previous edition, Milan 2014 is slated to be the largest ever gathering with the participation by navies and maritime forces of 17 countries," Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Foreign Cooperation) Rear Admiral R B Pandit told reporters here.
Eight countries including India would be taking part in the exercise with their warships with an aim to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation in anti-piracy and human disaster and relief operations.
Milan, which was started in 1995, has now grown into an international event and encompasses participation by maritime forces from not just the Bay of Bengal and South East Asia, but the larger Indian Ocean Region.
Pandit said four countries including Vietnam could not take part in the exercise due to reasons ranging from austerity measures to long distances. Navy officials said the exercise will also provide an opportunity to showcase the rich heritage and pristine natural beauty of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the foreign visitors.
Asked whether India would include Japan in the bilateral Malabar-series exercise with the US, Navy officials said whenever the drills are held in the US-designated areas, it can involve a third country. India recently agreed to include Japan in the Malabar-series joint exercises with America almost seven years after it last took part in them.