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Text Size: A- A+New Delhi: India plans to invite Australia to join the annual Malabar naval exercise that has so far included just Japan and the U.S., in a move that could risk China’s ire.

The exercise will bring together the navies of India, Japan, Australia and the U.S. in the Bay of Bengal at the end of the year, according to senior Indian officials who asked not to be identified, citing rules.

China had objected to the only other time Australia participated in the drills along with India, Japan, U.S. and Singapore in 2007.

India’s inclusion of Australia this year follows a defense agreement and upgrading ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

“There’s no direct relation between inviting Australia and what’s happening at the Sino-Indian border,” said Nanda in a phone interview.

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