China, Russia and Iran launched joint maritime drills in the Gulf of Oman this week, the Chinese Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.
The drills taking place from Wednesday to Sunday will help “deepen practical co-operation among the navies of participating countries”, the ministry said.
China said it would be deploying the guided missile destroyer Nanning for the drills, which will include “aerial search operations, sea rescue, naval parade formation exercises, as well as other tasks within the framework of the drills”.
Other countries are also taking part in the “Security Bond-2023” exercises, the ministry said on Tuesday, without giving details.
China, Russia and Iran held similar drills last year and in 2019, underscoring Beijing's growing military and political links with nations that have been largely shunned by the US and its partners.
The Gulf of Oman is a popular site for holding military drills due to its strategic position for oil transport and Iran, Pakistan, Oman and the UAE all having coastlines along it.
Last week, China hosted talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It resulted in an agreement between them on Friday to restore full diplomatic relations after seven years of tensions.
While the US and Saudi Arabia have long-standing military and political ties, relations have frayed over the 2018 killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s leadership and cuts in production by the OPEC+ oil cartel that the administration said were helping Russia.