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Saudi Arabia, Sudan Navies Launch First Joint Military Exercises

The navies of Sudan and Saudi Arabia have launched their first joint military exercises in the Red Sea.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/18/2013, 10:32 AM

Military officer during Red Sea exercise
Military officer during Red Sea exercise
Reuters

The navies of Sudan and Saudi Arabia have launched their first joint military exercises in the Red Sea, the official SUNA news agency reported on Sunday, according to AFP.

The training is set to run until Wednesday and focus on anti-smuggling operations and "boosting security and stability", SUNA quoted Sudan's military spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad as saying.

Two Saudi naval vessels and troops are participating, he said.

The exercise comes after warships from Iran, with which Saudi Arabia has tense relations, docked at Port Sudan last October and December.

At the time, Saad described the Iranian port calls as part of normal military exchanges between the two countries.

Israel has expressed concern about smuggling through Sudan, which has been a major hub for al-Qaida terrorists and a transit for weapon smugglers and African migrant traffickers.

The visits by Tehran's navy came after Khartoum accused the Jewish state of an October 23 air strike against a military factory in the capital.

"We think Israel did the bombing," Culture and Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said at the time.

"We reserve the right to react at a place and time we choose,” he said, adding that evidence pointing to Israel was found among remnants of the explosives

The incident led to speculation that Iranian weapons were being stored or manufactured at the site.

Israel did not comment on Sudan's accusation about the factory blast, while Sudan's foreign ministry denied Iranian involvement in the plant.