22:07 GMT17 June 2021
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    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country’s joint naval drills with China and Russia in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman reaffirm its resolve to secure vital waterways.

    Zarif said in a post on his official Twitter that Iran “has long stated its readiness to work w/our neighbours to secure Persian Gulf.”

    The tweet came on the same day the three countries started a four-day joint maritime exercise, dubbed the "Marine Security Belt," in an area of 17,000 square kilometres. The drills will consist of "various tactical exercises," including target practising and rescuing ships from assault and incidents such as fires.

    "Among the objectives of this exercise are improving the security of international maritime trade, countering maritime piracy and terrorism, exchanging information regarding rescue operations and operational and tactical experience," Second Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani said.

    Iran is taking part in the manoeuvres with its Sahand and Alborz destroyers, the Kenarak and Tonb logistic warships, the Neyzeh missile boat and the Nazeri hospital ship, Press TV reported.

    The exercise starts on the backdrop of the United States’ attempts to cobble together a coalition to provide maritime security near Iran's waters, and a string of incidents in the Hormuz strait, including attacks on oil tankers, for which London and Washington blamed Tehran, which has consistently denied its involvement. Zarif has stated that the drill is not aimed against other countries, and Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian has asserted that it has no connection to the recent tensions in the region.

    Earlier in September, while addressing the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani invited all countries that are affected by developments in the Persian Gulf to join the country’s initiative for the security of the strategic region, calling it a “Coalition of HOPE.”


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