YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—A senior Pentagon official discussed Armenia’s growing participation in international peacekeeping operations supported by the United States with Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, during a visit to Yerevan on Monday.
Anne Witkowsky, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability and humanitarian affairs, arrived in Yerevan to take part in an international forum on peacekeeping hosted by the Armenian Defense Ministry. She also held a separate meeting with Defense Minister Ohanian.
A Defense Ministry statement said they discussed “U.S.-Armenian cooperation” relating to Armenia’s involvement in ongoing peacekeeping missions around the world. Regional security was also on the agenda, it said.
“Anne Witkowsky said that Armenia is an important partner in the area of international peacekeeping and that Armenia’s efforts are highly appreciated by the U.S.,” added the statement.
President Serzh Sarkisian was among 50 or so world leaders who were invited to last week’s peacekeeping summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York chaired by President Barack Obama. Speaking at the summit, Sarkisian affirmed Armenia’s readiness to commit more troops to missions led by the UN or other international bodies. He specifically offered to deploy specialized medical and de-mining units.
Yerevan expects that those units will receive additional technical and material assistance from Western nations.
A peacekeeping brigade of the Armenian armed forces has already received large-scale assistance from the U.S., Germany, Greece and other NATO member states since it was set up over a decade ago. The brigade currently has about 200 rotating soldiers serving in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Lebanon. Earlier this month, NATO upgraded its evaluation of the brigade’s combat readiness and interoperability with NATO forces.
Ohanian reaffirmed his government’s intention to “consistently develop Armenia’s peacekeeping capacity” on Monday when he addressed the Yerevan forum attended by around 60 policymakers and security experts from more than a dozen countries.