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China says combined drills with Iran, Russia ‘important’ for regional security

The naval forces of China, Iran and Russia hold a fleet review during the sea phase of the Security Belt 2024 joint exercise held near the Gulf of Oman on March 13, 2024. (Photo by the Chinese Navy)

The Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman says joint exercises of the naval forces of China, Iran, and Russia strengthen military cooperation between the three countries and play an important role in maritime security across the region.

Wu Qian made the statement in a news briefing in the capital Beijing on Thursday following the recent drills, titled "Maritime Security Belt 2024", which were held by the navies of the three countries in the Gulf of Oman between March 11 and 15.

"China, Iran, and Russia have so far conducted numerous joint maritime exercises that are important for strengthening cooperation and interaction between the navies of the three countries and joint safeguarding of regional maritime security," Wu told the briefing.

The spokesman also expressed Beijing’s readiness to "develop maritime security cooperation and contacts with all parties, and to make new and greater contributions to the maintenance of regional peace and stability."

The naval drill, the sixth of its kind in recent years, was aimed at practicing safety in maritime economic activities, including the liberation of a ship captured by pirates, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The Maritime Security Belt 2024 naval drills are meant to beef up security and its fundamentals in the region, enhance multilateral cooperation among the participating countries and demonstrate the goodwill and ability of the participants to jointly safeguard global peace and maritime security.

The naval and airborne units of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, together with their Chinese and Russian counterparts, participated in the drills. Naval delegations from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, and South Africa also took part as observers in the exercises.

The exercises are also intended to strengthen the security of international maritime trade, combat piracy and maritime terrorism, and provide an opportunity for the exchange of information in the field of maritime rescue as well as operational and tactical experiences.

Marine Security Belt 2023 drill was held in the northern parts of the Indian Ocean.

It comes as the United States has been expanding its illegitimate military presence in the West Asia region and beyond, sowing instability and tensions by fanning the flames of regional conflicts through its occupation bases.

Over the past months, US forces have been carrying out multiple acts of aggression against resistance groups in West Asia in support of the Israeli regime's incessant bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip.

US and South Korean forces have also been carrying out various training exercises in recent months, including air and sea drills involving B-1B bombers, in a move which has infuriated North Korea.

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