China, Iran and Russia will hold joint naval drills starting on Friday in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman, China’s defense ministry said on Thursday.
China will send the Xining, a guided missile destroyer, to the drills, which will last until Monday, and are meant to deepen cooperation between the three countries’ navies, ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a monthly news briefing, Reuters reported.
The drill was a “normal military exchange” between the three armed forces and was in line with international law and practices, Wu said.
“It is not necessarily connected with the regional situation,” he added, without elaborating.
The Gulf of Oman is a particularly sensitive waterway as it connects to the Strait of Hormuz - through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes - which in turn connects to the Gulf.
The drills are also coming at a time of fraught tensions between the Washington and Tehran.
Friction has increased since last year when US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six nations and re-imposed sanctions on it, crippling its economy.