China, Russia, Iran to hold joint naval drills starting Friday

China, Russia, Iran to hold joint naval drills starting Friday
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Russia, China and Iran will begin a joint naval exercise this Friday, according to a statement from China's defense ministry

The drill will take place in the Gulf of Oman from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30.

The exercise is aimed at "deepening exchanges and cooperation among the navies of the three countries, and demonstrating the goodwill and capability of the three sides to jointly safeguard world peace and maritime security," the statement said.  

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Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian described the exercise as "a normal military exchange arrangement."

"It is in line with related international laws and practices, and has no connection with regional situation," Wu said in the statement.

China's navy will send a guided-missile destroyer to the drill. 

The exercise comes at a time when Iran in particular has had a tense relationship with the U.S.

Tensions heightened this year when the U.S. accused Iran of attacks on merchant tankers and Saudi oil facilities. The countries' relations have been strained since the U.S. withdrew from a 2015 nuclear agreement.