Iran, Russia and China Will Show Off Their Marine Capabilities in a Joint Naval Drill

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran will begin a joint naval drill with Russia and China in the northern part of the Indian Ocean, state media reported Tuesday.

Iran has stepped up its military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow in response to regional tensions with the United States, including by supplying military drones to Russia before the European nation invaded Ukraine in 2022. Visits to Iran by Russian and Chinese naval representatives have also increased in recent years.

A report by state TV quoted the drill's spokesperson, Adm. Mostafa Tajaddini, as saying that "Marine Security Belt 2024" will begin later Tuesday in 17 thousand square kilometers (6,600 square miles) of the water. The drill is aimed at "fostering security and multilateral cooperation," as well as showing the allies' good will and naval capacities.

He said that the three nations' drill -- their fourth since 2019 -- was also meant to improve trade, confront "piracy and terrorism, support to humanitarian activities, exchange of information in the field of rescue," among other goals.

The report said Oman, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and South Africa would be observers in the drill.