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Regional security needs no 'illegitimate' foreign presence: Iran Army commander

The chief of staff of the Iranian Army, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, speaks at a press conference in Tehran on December 28, 2019.

The chief of staff of the Iranian Army says joint naval drills among Iran, China and Russia can boost regional convergence and are indicative of the trio's determination to ensure security in the region without the help of any foreign powers.

Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari made the comments in a press conference on Saturday on the second day of the joint military exercises among the three countries in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman.

"This is while some [countries] want to say that there is a problem with regional security and there is need for their presence. This maneuver shows that there is no need for the illegitimate presence of foreigners in this region," he said.

He stressed that Iran has carried out remarkable measures to boost regional security over the past years, noting that the country has managed to play a leading role in curbing insecurity and combating piracy through reliance on its destroyers, missile-launching warships and logistic vessels.

He said the Islamic Republic's Navy provides security not only for Iranian vessels but also those of other countries, adding, "We have succeeded in showing our maritime power to the world and this is the reason powerful countries such as China and Russia are coming to our region’s waters to hold military drills."

Iran, Russia and China on Friday started  four days of joint maritime exercise, dubbed as the "Marine Security Belt," in an area of 17,000 square kilometers which consist of "various tactical exercises," such as target practicing and rescuing ships from assault and incidents such as fires.

The naval drills, the first of their kind, aim to secure international trade routes in strategic waterways and boost preparedness among participants against piracy and marine terrorism.

The three countries have sent some of their most advanced vessels to take part in the exercises.

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Elsewhere in the presser, Sayyari said saving damaged ships and using common tactics and enhanced international relations are among important goals of the exercise.

Definitely, this would not be the last naval drills among the three countries, he added, and noted that the trio would adopt a strategy to hold more exercises in the future.

"This maneuver is just a joint measure and we have no intention to form a coalition. Although the Americans were trying to pretend that there is insecurity in the region in order to form a coalition, Iran's message in this maneuver and other maneuvers is that security of the Strait of Hormuz has been ensured in the best way and that their coalition in this region makes no sense," the Iranian Army commander pointed out.

The United States has been trying to persuade its allies into a coalition with the purported aim of providing security for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic Middle Eastern shipping lanes.

Washington claims Tehran played a role in two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to support the accusations, which Iran has categorically dismissed.

The US has sent troops and missile systems to Saudi Arabia following escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday that the country's joint naval drills with China and Russia reaffirm its resolve to secure vital waterways.

"Our joint military drills in Oman Sea/Indian Ocean w/ our Russian & Chinese partners make clear our broader commitment to secure vital waterways," Zarif said in a post on his official Twitter account.

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