Iranian Navy Joins France, Other Countries in Joint Maritime Drills Off Indian Coast
Jointly led by India and France, the IONS comprises 24 countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Australia and Indonesia. Eight countries - among them China, Russia, and Japan - have observer status.
The Iranian naval forces joined navies from four other countries for joint maritime exercises conducted by the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) off the western coast of India.
The IONS is a voluntary grouping of littoral states designed to promote maritime cooperation, security and naval interoperability among the member states.
This is the first time the IONS has conducted the joint maritime drills since the group was founded in 2008.
The maritime exercises had two phases - the "harbour phase" which took place in Mormugao in India's Goa state between 25 and 27 March, and the "sea phase" which occurred in the Arabian Sea off Goa's coastline between 28 and 30 March.
The sea phase included specialised operations such as "relief and rescue missions", according to the participants.
The Indian Navy stated that nine ships from five IONS member countries and 16 observers from 11 other member states joined the naval drills.
Admiral Pierre Vandier, Chief of the Naval Staff of the French Navy, also "took part" in the drills, the French Embassy in New Delhi announced.
For Iran's part, the exercises saw the participation of indigenously developed destroyer 'Dena'.
Captain Farhad Fattahi, commander of the Iranian flotilla, said that Tehran was taking part in the exercises for "humanitarian purposes" and to share its "maritime and naval experiences" with other navies.
A hybrid conference to "define the outlines" of IMEX-22 was held in Mumbai city on 2 March, a release from the Indian Navy said. Although a delegation from the French Navy, led by Rear-Admiral Cloup Mandavialle, was present at the conference, other member states attended via video, virtually.
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