TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A Chinese destroyer has docked in a southern Iranian port in the first such visit to the country by the Chinese navy, Iran's state television reported on Sunday.
Adm. Hossein Azad, naval base chief in the southern port of Bandar Abbas, said the four-day visit that began Saturday saw the two navies sharing expertise in the field of marine rescue.
"On the last day of their visit while leaving Iran, the Chinese warships will stage a joint drill in line with mutual collaboration, and exchange of marine and technical information particularly in the field of aid and rescue," said Azad.
The report said the destroyer was accompanied by a logistics ship, and that both were on their way to the Gulf of Aden as a part of an international mission to combat piracy.
In recent years Iran's navy has increased its bilateral relations with various countries involved in fighting piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
Iranian media said Iran defended two Chinese commercial ships that were targeted by pirates in recent months.
Last year a Russian naval group docked in the same port on its way back from a Pacific Ocean mission.
The move is also seen part of off efforts by Iran to strike a balance among foreign navies present in the area near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world's oil is shipped.
U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is based in nearby Bahrain, on the southern coast of the Gulf.