China, Iran and Russia will hold joint naval drills starting on Friday in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman, China’s defense ministry said on Thursday, amid heightened tension in the region between Iran and the United States.

China will send the Xining, a guided missile destroyer, to the drills, which will last until Monday and are meant to deepen cooperation between the three countries’ navies, ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a monthly news briefing.

The drill was a “normal military exchange” between the three armed forces and was in line with international law and practices, Wu said.

“It is not necessarily connected with the regional situation,” he said, without elaborating.