New Delhi: Naval ships, aircraft and personnel from India, Japan and the US will participate in the 2018 Malabar exercises off the coast of Guam in the Western Pacific starting next week.

This is the first time that the exercises code-named Malabar are being conducted off the coast of Guam, a US territory, the US embassy said in what could be a demonstration of the US’s Indo-Pacific approach.

It is “the latest in a continuing series of exercises that has grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security," the US statement said referring possibly to the inclusion of Japan into the fold of the exercises that started with the US and India.

Significantly, however, Australia is not part of the exercises, which will run from 7 to 15 June. It is unclear whether Australia expressed interest in participating this year after reportedly being rebuffed by India last year. Officials from India, Australia, Japan and the US met in Manila last year to give shape to the “quad" of democracies that share similar views on freedom of navigation and overflight for unimpeded trade and commerce.

“The exercise will feature both ashore and at-sea training off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea. Training will focus on high-end warfighting skill sets, subject matter expert and professional exchanges, combined carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, medical operations, damage control, helicopter operations and visit, board, search and seizure operations," the statement said. “Indian, Japanese and US maritime forces look forward to working together again to build upon and advance their working relationship. Each iteration of this exercise helps to increase the level of understanding between our sailors and interoperability between our three navies," it added.

PTI contributed to this story.

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