Ryzhkov Continues Armenia Visit

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The fondest memories are connected with the name of Nikolay Ryzhkov in Armenia–and today the people of Armenia have nothing but deep gratitude for him," said Prime Minister Robert Kocharian when meeting with the Russian Duma delegation–headed by Ryzhkov–on a working visit in Armenia.

Prospects for Armenian-Russian bilateral relations were discussed during the meeting. The sides stressed the need for extending and boosting relations in the field of economy–as well as discussed issue surrounding the opening of the Russian-Armenian University in Yerevan.

Following the request by the Russian parliamentarians Kocharian also touched upon the processes of settlement of the Karabakh problem.

"Armenia and Russia have always been and should be strategic partners," said Ryzhkov. "We are grateful to Armenia–which has supported Russia’s stance on NATO eastward expansion," he explained.

He informed that the Russian Parliament was going to consider the military cooperation agreement between Russia and Armenia in the near future–and–in his opinion–deputies were likely to ratify it–as the agreement was aimed at defending common interests.

"Armenia and Russia will sign a new friendship and cooperation agreement. It’d be great if your leadership agreed to join the Russia-Belarus union," the Russian deputy said.

Speaking about arms supplies to Armenia and Rokhlin’s allegations in connection to the issue–Ryzhkov stressed that Rokhlin’s statement did not represent any decisions by the Duma–but presented views of one person only.

If Rokhlin had any information about breaches in the inter-governmental agreemen’s–he–according to Ryzhkov–was not entitled to making it public until all facts had been fully established. Ryzhkov said that Rokhlin’s allegations were hasty and irresponsible.

Ryzhkov holds that such actions are driving a wedge in the relationship between Armenia and Russia.

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