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Joint naval drills show is Iran is ready to cooperate in securing Hormuz maritime traffic: Zarif

Iran’s top diplomat has said that recent naval drills between Iran, Russia and China show that Tehran is ready to cooperate to ensure safe maritime passage in the Hormuz Strait.

“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,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday.

The foreign minister added that the drills also demonstrate that there are “other countries, among major world powers, which oppose provocative policies in this region”.

The foreign minister made the remarks after arriving in Vnukovo airport, near Moscow, for a meeting with his Russia counterpart, Sergei Lavrov .

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.

The drills consisted of various tactical exercises, such as target practice and rescuing ships from assaults and incidents such as fires.

The drills come as the United States has been seeking to set up a so-called international maritime coalition in the Persian gulf following a series of suspicious attacks on passing takers in the waterway it blamed on Iran.

Tehran has firmly rejected the accusations, describing the incidents as “false flag” operations.

Also in his remarks on Sunday, 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.

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.