NEW DELHI, India -- India and Singapore began their first-ever joint naval exercise Wednesday in the Bay of Bengal, an Indian naval spokesman said.
The Indian government had for decades opposed joint military maneuvers with any country, but last May it allowed the Indian Navy to conduct an exercise in the Arabian Sea with the U.S. Navy.
Subsequently, joint naval maneuvers also were staged with the French, British and Omani navies.
The Indian defense ministry now has approved U.S.-Indian simulated army maneuvers and a second joint naval exercise with the U.S. Pacific fleet in the spring in the Bay of Bengal.
Besides Singapore, the Indian Navy is seeking to hold joint exercises with some other countries in the region, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia and Malaysia.
The naval spokesman said two warships each of India and Singapore were participating in the latest four-day naval maneuvers.
'The warships are staging tactical exercises that involve weapon firing, screening and maneuvering at sea,' the spokesman said.
India's naval buildup in the 1980s spurred alarm in southeast Asia and Australia. The joint exercises appear aimed at allaying those concerns and boosting mutual confidence.