Monday, September 22, 2014

Chinese destroyers at Iran's Gulf port of Bandar Abbas, Prepare For Joint Naval Exercises

Iran, China Prepare For Joint Naval Exercises
Two Chinese destroyers have arrived at Iran's Gulf port of Bandar Abbas, in an unprecedented visit attesting to a new rapprochement between the two countries, Iranian media reported Sunday.

The four-day visit is the first time a Chinese naval vessel has called at a port in the Islamic republic, across the Gulf from Bahrain where the US Fifth Fleet is based.

The two navies will conduct joint search and rescue exercises and training for maritime accidents, according to Admiral Hossein Azad, a senior commander of the Iranian navy, quoted by media.

Iran's navy has boosted its international presence over the past few years, in particular to help guard commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden against pirate attacks.Ships from Iran's navy have called at Chinese ports in the past. Iran and China have greatly enhanced their trade and economic relations in recent years.
China has become Iran's largest trading partner.  Trade between them is this year expected to exceed $45 billion, despite the economic and banking sanctions against Iran because of its controversial nuclear programme.
China is among so-called P5+1 states (the United States, Russia, China, France, UK and Germany) negotiating with Tehran in the hope of ending more than a decade of crisis over the nuclear issue.
A photo provided by the Iranian news agency IRNA shows navy officers lining up to welcome a Chinese destroyer at the port of Bandar Abbas on September 20, 2014 photo-online

Chinese warships have docked at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf as the two countries prepare to conduct joint naval exercises.

The commander of Iran's First Naval Zone, Admiral Amir Hossein Azad, said on September 20, "The voyage of the Chinese Army’s fleet of warships for the first time in the Persian Gulf waters is aimed at joint preparation of Iran and China for establishing peace, stability, tranquility, and multilateral and mutual cooperation."

Reports did not specify exactly when the exercises would start, only referring to the beginning of the drills as taking place "in the coming days."

The naval exercises start just days after Iranian naval vessels rescued a Chinese cargo ship from pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

Iranian warships visited China in 2013 for joint naval maneuvers.

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