- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The U.S. Navy is conducting joint military exercises with Japan, Australia and India over Asian waters this week amid a surge in tensions between the U.S. and China, the military announced Monday.

The USS Nimitz, which was deployed to the South China Sea earlier this month, is conducting drills with India’s navy in the Indian Ocean, Reuters reported, while the USS Ronald Regan is carrying out drills with Japanese and Australian naval forces in the Philippine Sea.

Beijing has claimed 90% of the South China Sea as its sovereign maritime territory, a claim rejected by the U.S. and nations in the region.

“While operating together, the U.S. and Indian naval forces conducted high-end exercises designed to maximize training and interoperability, including air defense,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.

The exercises signaled a growing level of cooperation between Washington and New Delhi, while the U.S. Navy said the move was a sign of support for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

The U.S.-India drills come amid clashes between India and China along their shared Himalayan border. The high-altitude brawls have been breaking out for weeks as troops from the two sides massed in disputed territory off India’s northern tip — sparking fears of a wider escalation between the world’s two most populous nations.

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