Armenia, Iran Agree to Strengthen Defense Ties

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehqan discussing Nagorno-Karabakh in Moscow on April 27, 2016
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehqan discussing Nagorno-Karabakh in Moscow on April 27, 2016

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehqan discussing Nagorno-Karabakh in Moscow on April 27, 2016 (Photo: President.am)

TEHRAN (RFE/RL)—An Armenian deputy defense minister in charge of arms and other procurements has reportedly reached agreements on closer military cooperation between Armenia and Iran during a visit to Tehran.

The official, General Movses Hakobian, is the recently appointed head of the Armenian Defense Ministry on Department Material-Technical Procurements. The department is tasked with supplying Armenia’s Armed Forces with weapons, ammunition, food and other provisions.

The ministry said over the weekend that a delegation headed by Hakobian was in Iran from June 14-17, holding talks with Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and Mohammad Mehdi Karbala, the chief executive of the state-run ETKA corporation, a leading supplier of food, clothing and other non-lethal items to the Iranian military.

A ministry statement said the Armenian delegation also “visited various factories and stores and acquainted itself with the full range of their products.”

“During the meeting [with Dehqan], questions concerning long-term prospects for Armenian-Iranian cooperation in the area of defense were discussed,” it said.

“As a result of the visit, agreements were reached with regard to the advancement of cooperation in a number of areas. A memorandum of understanding was signed,” the statement added without elaborating.

Karbala and other senior ETKA executives visited Armenia and met with Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian in February. The Defense Ministry in Yerevan said at the time that they also held talks with “the management of a number of Armenian industrial enterprises.”

Ohanian and Dehqan met in Moscow on April 27 just weeks after the outbreak of heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces deployed around Nagorno-Karabakh. The escalation apparently dominated the talks, with Dehqan reiterating Tehran’s calls for the conflicting parties to stick to the ceasefire regime.

A week later, Ohanian briefed Iran’s ambassador to Armenia on his “agreements” reached with his Iranian counterpart and, according to his press office, “expressed confidence that they will be put into practice soon.” The ambassador, Seyyed Kazem Sajjad, was reported to hail closer defense ties between the two neighboring states.

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