COLOMBO, Mar 15 (AFP): Australia will launch a seven-nation Indian Ocean military exercise next week, starting in Sri Lanka where China has invested in strategic ports and loaned huge amounts to build other infrastructure, Canberra's envoy said on Friday.
Some 1,000 Australian security personnel in four naval ships and a military aircraft will participate in the biggest joint exercise yet with their Sri Lankan counterparts, Canberra's top envoy in Colombo, Jon Philp, said.
"Sri Lanka and Australia are increasingly like-minded on maritime security and Indian Ocean issues," Philp said adding that the two countries will improve cooperation and familiarity with each other's defence forces.
Australian forces will move to neighbouring India on March 26 and thereafter travel to Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore before returning to Darwin after two and a half months.
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