Iran Declares Readiness to Expand Military Exercises with China
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani voiced his country's readiness to expand joint wargames with China in a bid to further develop the two countries' strategic relations and counter the West’s unilateralism.
Brig. Gen. Ashtiani made the remark in a meeting on Saturday with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in the Indian capital of New Delhi.
The Iranian minister stressed that the SCO has turned into an influential organization in global developments, adding that the expansion and consolidation of the organization is an effective step towards promoting multilateralism in the international arena.
The Iranian defense chief further pointed to significant changes in the regional and international issues, and noted that the two countries have invariably tried to prevent the implementation of “unilateralist and totalitarian approaches” by the West towards independent countries.
Ashtiani underlined that the United States is currently engaged in fomenting crisis and tension in Eastern Europe and West Asia, stating, “American policies are a common threat to Iran and China; we are against a unipolar world.”
The defense minister referred to last month’s joint naval drills between Iran, China and Russia, dubbed Maritime Security Belt exercise 2023, adding, "This showed that the three countries are against the hegemonic views of the West and the United States, and we are ready to expand joint drills and exercises in the fields of sea, land, and air defense quantitatively and qualitatively."
“It will be very useful and productive for both sides to continue the dialogue and carry out the exchange of military defense and intelligence delegations at different levels,” he continued.
Ashtiani also lauded cultural commonality and historical relations between Iran and China, saying the political will of the leaders of the two countries as well as the understanding and adoption of common positions towards international developments are of strategic value.
Li, for his part, underscored the relationship and interaction between Iran and China with regard to the political will of the two countries' leaders in the midst of critical global changes, as well as the importance of expanding military defense cooperation between the two sides.
Praising “deep and long-term” ties between Iran and China, Li said, “The two countries enjoy mutual strategic trust and both favor independence and an end to the status quo.”
The Chinese defense minister appreciated the Islamic Republic’s principled positions on China's international issues as well as the interests of Tehran and Beijing, stating, “The two countries have a sincere and effective cooperation against the dominance of some countries.”
“We believe that a good horizon lies ahead of us and that the Islamic Republic of Iran plays a good and constructive role in regional issues,” Li added.
Iranian naval forces, together with their Chinese and Russian counterparts, have held several joint wargames in recent years with the purpose of improving the security of international maritime trade, countering piracy and maritime terrorism, exchange of information in naval rescue and relief operations, and exchange of operational and tactical experiences.
Back in mid-March, the naval forces of Iran, China and Russia kicked off a joint exercise, dubbed “naval security belt combined war game 202", in the Sea of Oman, as the three countries are teaming up to deepen exchanges and cooperation among their navies. The maritime exercise was involved forces from the marine and airborne units of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy, and flotillas from China and Russia.
The drills helped "deepen practical cooperation among the navies of participating countries".
In January, Iran, China and Russia held the "2022 Marine Security Belt" joint drills in the North Indian Ocean. The joint naval drill was participated by naval and airborne forces the Iranian Navy, the IRGC Navy and vessels from China and Russia.
Military officials say the country's navy forces are at the highest level of preparedness to defend Iran against any type of threat or aggression, and add the presence of Iran's fleets of warships in high seas indicates the country's power and strength.