Iran, Russia and China have launched a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean aimed at boosting marine security, state media reported.
Iran’s state TV said 11 of its vessels were joined by three Russian ships including a destroyer, and two Chinese vessels.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard will also participate with smaller ships and helicopters.
The report said the manoeuvres would cover some 17,000 square kilometres, or 6,560 square miles, in the Indian Ocean’s north, and include night fighting, rescue operations and firefighting drills.
This is the third joint naval drill between the countries since 2019. It coincided with a recent visit by Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi to Russia.
“Improving bilateral relations between Tehran and Moscow will enhance security for the region and the international arena,” Mr Raisi said upon returning from Russia on Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Tehran has sought to step up military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow amid regional tensions with the United States. Visits to Iran by Russian and Chinese naval representatives have also increased in recent years.
Iran has been holding regular military drills in recent months, as attempts to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers founder.
Russia is also at loggerheads with the US and the west over its neighbour Ukraine, where it has sent some 100,000 troops that Washington, Kyiv and their allies fear will be used to invade the country.
Russia on Thursday announced sweeping naval manoeuvres in multiple areas involving the bulk of its naval potential – around 140 warships and more than 60 aircraft – to last through to February.
The exercises will be held in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the north-eastern Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, in addition to the joint exercise with Iran in the Indian Ocean.