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Iran ready to participate in joint military drills with Russia if offer made

October 21, 2015, 14:26 UTC+3 ASTRAKHAN

A group of Iranian navy ships arrived in Astrakhan in south Russia on a friendly visit on Wednesday

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© ITAR-TASS/Dmitriy Rogulin

ASTRAKHAN, October 21. /TASS/. Naval drills between Iran and Russia are useful to exchange experience and the Islamic Republic is ready to take part in military exercises again if an offer is received, an Iranian naval group commander said on Wednesday.

A group of Iranian navy ships arrived in Astrakhan in south Russia on a friendly visit on Wednesday.

"Last time, we held exercises together with the Russian navy and this was a successful event," said Captain 1st Rank Ahmad Reza Bakeri, who leads the Iranian squadron that has arrived in Astrakhan.

"If there is a possibility, we’ll hold the drills once again. These are the drills for the exchange of experience," Bakeri said.

The Iranian squadron sailed through the Caspian Sea without any complexities and adjustments were made only due to specific weather conditions, he added.

In turn, Caspian Flotilla Brigade Commander Captain 1st Rank Kirill Taranenko said the Iranian ships had arrived in Astrakhan for the second time.

"We have a good tradition of meetings: Iranian ships are visiting us for the second time. A cultural program has been prepared for the Iranian sailors and we’ll show them the landmarks of the city and organize a visit to the Astrakhan kremlin, museums, a stroll along the city. Sports events will be held to include volleyball and football matches between the teams of the Flotilla and the Iranian navy," he said.

The Iranian missile boats Joshan and Paykan arrived in Astrakhan on a friendly visit on Wednesday.

A festive ceremony was held on the Volga River embankment in front of a monument to Peter the Great to receive the Iranian sailors, a TASS correspondent reported from the scene.

"Overall, three Iranian ships have arrived on a friendly visit. But one of them, the advanced Iranian destroyer Damavand has a deep draft and would have been unable to sail across the Volga [the river has a shallow section in this area]. That is why, it continued staying anchored at sea at the entry to the Volga-Caspian Canal," the Caspian Flotilla press office told TASS.

The Iranian ships will stay in Astrakhan until Friday evening.

The ships’ visit envisages Iranian sailors’ meetings with the regional leadership and the command of the Caspian Flotilla of the Russian Navy, as well as friendly futsal and volleyball matches.

The regional authorities are also expected to organize a tour of Astrakhan for the Iranian sailors.

The Iranian naval ships are paying a friendly visit planned under a program of developing and strengthening international cooperation.

It was earlier reported that the frigate Damavand and the missile-carrying boats Joshan and Paykan had departed for Astrakhan from the city of Bandar-e Anzali. Iranian Squadron Commander Ahmad Reza Bakeri said in an interview with Fars news agency that the visit had been planned before.

After Astrakhan, the Iranian squadron will go to Baku on a friendly visit.

Mutual visits by Russian and Iranian ships to Caspian ports have become regular in the past two years.

Specifically, Iranian naval ships visited the Caspian Flotilla in the summer of 2013, calling at Astrakhan. The Iranian squadron comprised the missile boats Peikan and Jushan.

In the autumn of 2014, the Russian escort ship Dagestan and the small missile ship Grad Sviyazhsk paid a friendly visit to Bandar-e Anzali.

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