U.S., China take part in Pakistan naval drills

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The United States and China began naval drills in the Arabian Sea with Pakistan and other countries on Thursday, the Pakistani navy said, in a show of strength against terrorism and piracy.

The AMAN-13 exercise involves ships from 13 countries and observers from 20 others and comes two weeks after China took control of a strategic Pakistani Arabian Sea port from Singapore’s PSA International.

The five-day exercise, which began earlier this week with meetings and maneuvers in port, will end on Friday and is aimed at “information sharing, mutual understanding and identifying areas of common interest,” the navy said in a statement.

The maneuvers -- the fourth since 2007 -- will also help develop and practice response tactics, techniques and procedures as well as improving cooperation between navies, the statement said.

One of the main objectives is to “display united resolve against terrorism and crimes in maritime domain,” it said.

The shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean have been plagued in recent years by attacks from Somali pirates, who have seized dozens of ships and earned millions of dollars in ransom for their release.

“All the nations participating in the AMAN have a common objective of ensuring peace and stability in the maritime arena to provide freedom of navigation and uninterrupted flow of trade,” the Pakistan navy statement said.

The American destroyer USS William P. Lawrence was among the ships taking part, along with vessels from Australia, Britain, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and Turkey. Russia and Germany are among the observers.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad are on the mend after a series of crises in 2011 including the discovery of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

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