(MENAFN) The United States and the European Union have completed a joint naval exercise in the high seas, according to a statement released by the State Department on Friday. The exercise was carried out earlier this week in the framework of the EU and U.S. patrolling and exercising high seas freedom of navigation.
The exercise involved the USS Paul Hamilton, as well as the EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta’s Spanish ship REINA SOFIA and an Italian ship, Carlo Bergamini. The two-day exercise was aimed at promoting practical maritime cooperation and supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific, in line with documents such as the EU Strategic Compass, the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy.
The statement further added that the exercise formed part of the shared commitment of the EU and United States to work towards regional maritime security and support freedom of navigation and other internationally lawful uses of the sea in the Indo-Pacific. The EU and the US "reaffirm their commitment to further pursue coordination and complementary work for regional maritime security to support freedom of navigation and other internationally lawful uses of the sea in the Indo-Pacific," according to the statement.
The joint naval exercise comes amid rising tensions in the region, particularly between the US and China. Both countries have been increasing their military presence in the Indo-Pacific in recent years, with China asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea and the US seeking to maintain its military presence in the region.
The US has been pushing for a "Quad" alliance with Japan, India, and Australia to counter China's growing influence in the region. The EU has also been increasing its engagement in the Indo-Pacific, with the recent publication of its Strategic Compass highlighting the need for the EU to become more active in the region.
The joint naval exercise is a positive step towards promoting regional security and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. While tensions between major powers in the region continue to simmer, exercises like these can help build trust and promote dialogue. It remains to be seen whether such exercises will become more frequent in the coming years, as major powers jostle for influence in this strategically important region.
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