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Iranian warships dock again in Sudan

By Amir Ahmed and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
December 10, 2012 -- Updated 0248 GMT (1048 HKT)
Two Iranian warships dock in the Sudanese Red Sea city of Port Sudan on Saturday.
Two Iranian warships dock in the Sudanese Red Sea city of Port Sudan on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two Iranian warships dock in Port Sudan, officials and witnesses say
  • The visit is part of routine exercises by friendly nations, says Sudanese military spokesman
  • The Iranian officers met with top Sudanese navy commanders, Iranian state media say
  • Another pair of Iranian warships called into Port Sudan less than six weeks ago

(CNN) -- Two Iranian navy warships arrived Saturday morning in Port Sudan, in the second such visit to Sudan within two months, eyewitnesses and officials said.

"These visits by Iranian navy warships to Sudan come in the framework of routine exercises by navy forces of friendly nations," Col. Khaled Saad al-Sawarmy, the official spokesman for the Sudanese armed forces, told CNN.

"They aim to accomplish political and diplomatic goals in addition to securing and policing the ports and waters."

The two ships are a destroyer and a helicopter carrier, Iran's state-run news agency IRNA said.

The commanders of the flotilla met with senior Sudanese naval commanders, the news agency said.

Sudan's Commander Abdullah Al-Matari called for enhanced military ties with Iran and said the establishment of marine security was a priority for both nations, IRNA said.

The last such visit came at the end of October, when a pair of Iranian warships spent four days docked in Port Sudan, according to Sudanese state media.

They arrived less than a week after a weapons factory in Khartoum was bombed, killing two people, in what Sudanese officials said was an airstrike by Israel, Iran's foe. Israel declined to comment on the attack in the east African country.

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