India has consistently monitored China’s expansionist behavior in the Indo-Pacific region. Keeping this in mind, India is entering into military agreements with similar-minded countries to expand its strategic and naval operational reach across the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
After entering into such agreements with the US, France, South Korea, and Singapore, New Delhi announced a ‘Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement’ (MLSA) with Canberra during a virtual conference held between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday.
Not only this, sources said, after Australia, but India is also ready to enter into a military logistic treaty with Japan. At the same time, similar agreements are being negotiated with Russia and the United Kingdom. He said that the MLSA would enable our warships to anchor at Australian naval bases, take advantage of maintenance and storage facilities as well as refuel from Australian tankers.
India entered into a treaty with the US in 2016 under the ‘Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement’ (LEMOA). Under this, India was allowed to refuel and move from American bases in the Gulf of Djibouti, Diego Garcia, Guam, and Subic.
A similar agreement with France in 2018 helped the Indian Navy reach the Southwest IOR. The Navy was able to gain access to the Reunion Islands near Madagascar and the French bases in Djibouti.
Sources said that the MLSA along with Australia will help us expand the reach of our warships in the Southern IOR as well as the Western Pacific. The area of the Indonesian Strait is also important to us.
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All these agreements are important for India in the backdrop of China’s rapid expansion into the IAOR after building its first foreign military base in Djibouti in August 2017.
China also has access to the Karachi and Gwadar ports in Pakistan for unloading and loading facilities for its submarines and warships. It is also trying to establish military bases in Cambodia, Vanuatu and other countries to further strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific region.