FM Zarif: Joint drill of Iran, Russia, China message against provocative policies in region

FNA – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the joint naval drill of his country with Russia and China was meant to relay the message of the trio’s strong opposition to provocative policies of trans-regional players in the Western Asia region.

Upon arriving in Vnukovo airport, near Moscow, for a meeting with his Russia counterpart Sergei Lavrov late on Sunday, Zarif said that the recent joint naval drills between Iran, Russia and China demonstrate that there are “other countries, among major world powers, which oppose provocative policies in this region”.

The remarks come after Iran, Russian and China concluded the third and final day of maritime drills spanning 17,000 square kilometers across the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean earlier on Sunday.

Also in his remarks, Zarif said that Tehran and Moscow enjoy close ties and that his current visit to the country is his 28th trip during his six-and-a-half-year tenure as foreign minister.

“We (Iran and Russia) have strategic ties and it is therefore required to have constant cooperation and consultation regarding various regional and international issues,” he said.

“This joint exercise shows that Iran is willing to cooperate [with other countries] to ensure the security and the free passage of maritime traffic in the important international waterway of Hormuz,” Zarif added.

Zarif, which is accompanied by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi and Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi, will meet Lavrov on Monday.

The meeting will focus on regional and international issues such as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, resolving the war in Syria, and developments in the Persian Gulf region.

The two foreign ministers will also discuss expanding ties between the two countries.

Iran, Russia and China started the joint “Marine Security Belt” drills in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman area on Friday morning.

The event was the first such cooperation with Iran since the 1979 victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

It came amid US efforts to woo countries into a maritime coalition for patrols in the Persian Gulf, which have received lukewarm welcome from its allies.

On Wednesday, Spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said the event was meant to promote the security of international trade in the strategic regions, adding that sharing experience in maritime rescue operations was also to be pursued in the maneuvers.

He said that Iran has proved that it always tries to maintain peace in the international waterways, especially this important area.

On Thursday, Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman Wu Qian announced that Beijing’s Xining guided-missile destroyer would take part in the drills. Three Russian vessels are also taking part in the drills, according to reports.

Also on Thursday, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi underlined that high deterrence power of the country’s Armed Forces has discouraged enemies at military aggression.

The enemy never dares to attack Iran thanks to combat readiness of the Iranian forces at sea and on the ground, Rear Admiral Khanzadi said, addressing a meeting in the Northeastern city of Mashhad.

The Americans are well-known as aggressors with records of aggression on several states and they have killed 800,000 native people in their civil war, he added.

Rear Admiral Khanzadi said that the United States is the only country in the world which has used nuclear weapon, encouraged the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, created ISIL terrorist group to cause bloodbath and never hesitates to ignite conflict across the world.

During eight years of sacred defense with Iraq, many countries backed Saddam Hussein, but, in the end it was Iran that won the battle and that the role of the Iranian Navy was very significant, the commander said.

He said that the enemy is now exerting economic pressure to break the people’s unity, but to no avail.

On Sunday, Commander of the Iranian Army Major General Seyed Abdolrahim Mousavi highlighted that the joint military drills of his country’s navy with Chinese and Russian forces is a manifestation of Tehran’s successful diplomacy for promoting regional security.

“This drill demonstrates the determination of countries that are seeking security in the region against those countries that are after creating insecurity,” he said, adding that enemies should take lessons from the drill’s messages.

The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, MV Delight, off the coast of Yemen.

According to UN Security Council resolutions, different countries can send their warships to the Gulf of Aden and coastal waters of Somalia against the pirates and even with prior notice to Somali government enter the territorial waters of that country in pursuit of Somali sea pirates.

The Gulf of Aden – which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea – is an important energy corridor, particularly because Persian Gulf oil is shipped to the West via the Suez Canal.