Iran, China hold joint naval drill in Persian Gulf

Chinese Navy fleet at the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas

The Chinese commander made the remarks in a meeting with Commander of Iran's First Naval Zone Admiral Hossein Azad on Sunday, noting that Fleet 150 launched its voyage from Shanghai on the occasion of 68th anniversary of the establishment of China's Navy.

Iran and China are now conducting a joint naval drill in the Strait of Hormuz, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Two Chinese warships docked at Iran's Bandar Abbas port to take part in a joint naval exercise in the Gulf for the first time in 2014. Some 700 Iranian navy personnel will be participating in the drill.

US and Iranian warships have had a number of tense encounters in the Persian Gulf in recent years.

A significant amount of China's oil imports from the Middle East passes through strait. The US Navy also held a drill with Qatar on Saturday.

The joint drills are coming amid a recent move by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and a number of other Arab and non-Arab states to cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.

Xu Guangyu, a former Chinese general, said the latest drill was a sign of common and friendly exchanges between Beijing and Tehran.

In December 2015, members of a high-ranking naval delegation from China visited Iran for talks.

Chinese Rear Admiral Shen Hao was quoted by IRNA as saying the drill would help develop the friendship between the two navies and strengthen confidence.

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