China Seeks Closer Defense Ties

China Seeks Closer Defense Ties
China Seeks Closer Defense Ties

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan says Beijing wants to have closer military ties with Iran, expressing Beijing’s readiness to promote pragmatic cooperation with Tehran.

“The two armed forces (of Iran and China) have seen good cooperation on mutual visits, personnel training, and other fields in recent years,” China’s official news agency Xinhua quoted Chang as saying on Thursday.

The Chinese defense minister told the visiting commander of the Iranian navy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, that “Exchanges between the two navies have been fruitful and their warships have paid successful visits to each other.”

Sayyari is in China since last Sunday to explore ways of promoting Sino-Iran defense cooperation.

In recent years Iranian naval forces have sought to expand maritime relations and exchange of expertise with Tehran’s regional allies including Russia and China.

In September, a Chinese fleet of warships anchored in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas and conducted joint naval exercises. The visit was for the first time ever and came shortly after Iran’s naval forces thwarted an attack by pirates on a Chinese container ship in the Gulf of Aden.

Two Russian warships docked at the Caspian Sea port of Anzali in northern Iran this month. A year earlier two vessels of Iranian navy made a port call to the Russian city of Astrakhan.

Iranian naval forces and fleets have also increased their presence in international waters as part of missions to protect naval routes and provide security for merchant vessels and tankers against sea piracy. Sayyari said Iran attaches great importance to its relations with China and “is ready to enhance bilateral exchanges to push forward cooperation between the two armed forces, especially in naval cooperation.”

The navy commander toured the Shanghai naval base on Monday and held talks with senior Chinese naval officials. According to China’s People’s Liberation Army Daily, he “listened to an introduction on equipment ability and weapons systems”.

Sayyari said he hoped Iran and China could cooperate on anti-piracy operations, the newspaper said.