TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s navy on Friday kicked off the first joint naval drill with Russia and China in the northern part of the Indian Ocean, Iranian state TV reported.
The four-day exercise, launched from the southeastern port city of Chahbahar in the Gulf of Oman and near the border with Pakistan, is aimed at boosting security of the region's waterways, the report quoted Iran's navy chief Adm. Hossein Khanzadi as saying.
On Thursday, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the drill would “deepen exchange and cooperation between the navies of the three countries.” He said Chinese navy’s guided missile destroyer “Xining” was taking part in the exercise.
Tehran has been seeking to step up military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow amid unprecedented economic sanctions from Washington. Visits to Iran by Russian and Chinese naval representatives have also increased in recent years.
The Iranian TV also said the drill shows that Iran is not isolated, despite the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and the Trump administration's escalated sanctions on Iran.
The drill is also seen as a response to recent U.S. maneuvers with its regional ally Saudi Arabia, in which China also participated.