South Africa, Venezuela welcome enhanced defense ties with Iran
The navy commanders of South Africa and Venezuela have expressed their keenness to expand defense ties with Iran.
During a meeting with Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani on Sunday, Chief of South African Navy Vice-Admiral Monde Lobese expressed his country's interest in strengthening cooperation between the two countries' naval forces as much as possible.
Lobese also stressed that " South Africa's waters and ports are open to all Iran's military and non-military vessels."
For his part, Shahram Irani appreciated the African country for welcoming the Iranian Navy’s 86th flotilla of warships which anchored in the city of Cape Town as part of its round-the-world voyage, urging his South African counterpart to visit Iran and take part in naval drills.
The 86th flotilla of warships, comprised of domestically-manufactured Dena destroyer and Makran forward base ship, entered Iran's territorial waters in May after sailing 63,000 kilometers of sea routes over eight months and a circumnavigation of the globe in 360 degrees as part of the Islamic Republic's efforts to expand its naval presence in high seas.
The meeting between Iran and Lobese took place on the sidelines of Russia's annual Navy Day event in Saint Petersburg.
Also on Sunday, Irani met with the General Commander of the Venzeuala's Navy, Admiral Neil Jesus Sanchez, who hailed the military relations between Tehran and Caracas.
"Military cooperation between Iran and Venezuela, especially in the maritime field, is very deep," Neil Jesus Sanchez said, adding that "These ties are expanding day by day."
The meetings were also attended by Kazem Jalali, Iran's ambassador to Russia and Reza Khosarvi Moqaddam, Iran's military attaché to Moscow.
Russia's annual Navy Day is marked on the last Sunday of July in honor of the victory of Russia's navy in the 1714 Battle of Gangut with Sweden.
Besides the participation of Shahram Irani in the ceremony, the Iranian Navy also deployed three vessels to Russia to join the naval parade north of the Caspian Sea.
Iranian naval forces, together with their Russian counterparts, have held several joint war games in recent years with the purpose of improving the security of international maritime trade, countering piracy and maritime terrorism, exchanging information in naval rescue and relief operations, and exchange of operational and tactical experiences.