An Italian Navy frigate docked at Iran’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas on Saturday, Iranian and Italian media reports said, the first time a Western naval vessel has arrived in Iran for several years.
The warship, named Euro, is on a four-day visit to Iran, state-run Press TV reported.
Italian servicemen on board the warship will hold meetings with Iranian Navy officials, visit a number of Iranian islands, and learn about the Iranian Navy’s military achievements and capabilities.
The visit is “in line with the two countries’ plan to boost friendly military relations,” it added.
The Italian frigate “has been dispatched to the Islamic Republic with the purpose of improving political, cultural and military relations,” Press TV said, reporting comments by Italian and Iranian officials.
“The enemy has always sought to undermine Iran and spread Iranophobia,” Press TV quoted Iran’s First Naval Zone Admiral Amir Hossein Azad as saying. “However, different countries dispatch their military and naval forces to Iran and participate in joint projects as the high level of security in the Islamic Republic has been proved to neighboring and regional countries and the entire world,” he added.
The Italian Navy said the frigate was part of a mission by the European Union to fight piracy. It added that the visit comes as part of the resumption of “historic and excellent relations” between the Iranian and Italian Navies.
The last time an Italian naval vessel visited Iran was in 2001.
The visit by the Italian frigate follows rising tensions in the Gulf between US and Iranian naval vessels in recent months.
Over the past few weeks US naval vessels in the Gulf have had to fire warning shots or take evasive action to avoid colliding with oncoming Iranian vessels, according to US Navy officials.
The U.S. Navy says it recorded 31 instances of “unsafe and/or unprofessional interactions” by Iran in the first half of this year.
However, Iranian FM Zarif said on Friday that his country doesn’t seek provocations with the US and that these actions are meant to protect their own security.