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China, Russia and Iran to launch joint naval drill on Friday

Wargame will take place in the northern Indian Ocean, the third such exercise by the three nations

Illustrative: This photo released on January 13, 2021, by the Iranian Army, shows an Iranian Navy warship during a navy military drill in the Gulf of Oman. (Iranian Army via AP)
Illustrative: This photo released on January 13, 2021, by the Iranian Army, shows an Iranian Navy warship during a navy military drill in the Gulf of Oman. (Iranian Army via AP)

China, Russia and Iran will hold a maritime joint exercise on Friday, a public relations official from Iran’s armed forces told the semi-official ISNA news agency on Thursday.

The wargame will take place in the northern Indian Ocean, Mostafa Tajoldin said, and is the third joint naval drill between the three countries, with the previous one taking place last February.

Preparations for the latest maneuvers came as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, met in Moscow Wednesday, as pressure mounts for a decision on the Iran nuclear deal.

Raisi said he had presented Moscow with draft documents on strategic ties that would cement joint collaboration for the next two decades.

Putin praised the countries’ “close cooperation” on the international stage and said: “It is very important for me to know your opinion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

The 2015 accord between Iran and world powers — the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany — offered Tehran relief from crippling international sanctions in return for deep curbs on its nuclear program.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) speaks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (right) during their meeting in Moscow, on January 19, 2022. (Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP)

But the unilateral US withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 under former president Donald Trump prompted Tehran to walk back on its commitments.

Talks to restore the accord began again last year but stopped in June, when Iran elected Raisi. They then resumed in November.

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it was “not time to give up” on talks with Iran aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

“There is some progress being made,” Biden said at a press conference to mark his first year in the White House.

“P5+1 are on the same page but it remains to be seen,” Biden said in reference to the nations taking part in the negotiations in Vienna.

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