India has signed a mutual logistics support arrangement (MLSA) with Japan, with an eye firmly on China’s expansionist behaviour in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. The pact was signed by defence secretary Ajay Kumar and Japanese ambassador Suzuki Satoshi, a defence ministry spokesperson said. The agreement provides for creation of an enabling framework for closer cooperation, interoperability and use of each other’s military facilities by the armed forces of the two countries, the official said. “The agreement establishes the enabling framework for closer cooperation between the armed forces of India and Japan in reciprocal provision of supplies and services while engaged in bilateral training activities,” he said. India has signed similar agreements with the US, France, South Korea, Singapore and Australia. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) inked with the US in 2016 gives India refueling facilities and access to American bases in Djibouti, Diego Garcia, Guam and Subic Bay. The one inked with France in 2018, in turn, also extends the Indian Navy’s reach in south-western IOR due to French bases in the Reunion Islands near Madagascar and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. The MLSA with Australia will help us to extend the reach of our warships in southern IOR as well as the Western Pacific region. The pacts are crucial for India in the backdrop of China fast expanding its strategic footprint in the IOR after its first overseas military base at Djibouti became operational in August 2017. China, of course, also has access to Karachi and Gwadar ports in Pakistan for turnaround facilities for its submarines and warships. It is also trying for military bases in Cambodia, Vanuatu and other countries to further consolidate its presence in the Indo-Pacific. Closer to India, China has six to eight warships deployed in the IOR at any given time. Furiously modernizing its naval forces, from long-range nuclear ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles to submarines and aircraft carriers, China has commissioned well over 80 warships in the last six years.
Source : The Times of India
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