Russian Defense Minister Visits Armenia Praises Bilateral Cooperation

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Russian Defense Minister Marshal Igor Sergeyev–who arrived in Yerevan on Tuesday on a two-day official visit–said military cooperation with Armenia has been effective and reflects strategic interests of both countries.

Sergeyev held talks the same day with Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Armen Darbinian–which he said focused on the implementation of the existing military agreemen’s. Sergeyev told reporters that his and the Armenian leadership’s positions on "all key issues" converged.

The two sides are reported to have reached agreement on issues ranging from holding joint military maneuvers to training officers.

Sergeyev said the legal framework for cooperation is adequate–and what the two countries need to do is to ensure its full implementation.

Under the landmark treaty signed in August 1997–Russia is obliged to defend Armenia in case of a military attack on the latter.

Moscow has kept its troops on the Armenian territory ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The presence of two Russian military bases is a crucial element in Yerevan’s national security doctrine.

Sergeyev on Tuesday neither denied nor confirmed reports in the Russian media that Moscow may deploy the S-300 long-range anti-aircraft missiles in Armenia’soon.

"I can give a definite answer only after we discuss a wide array of issues," he said.

Meanwhile–the press service of the Armenian government reported that Prime Minister Armen Darbinian and the Russian minister discussed "cooperation in the field of military industry."

The delegation headed by Sergeyev includes a senior representative of Russia’s leading arms trader–the Rosvooruzhenie concern.

Upon arrival at Zvartnots Airport Sergeyev was met by Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sargssian–his deputies–senior army officials of Armenia and Russia.

Sergeyev also met with Armenian President Robert Kocharian later on Tuesday.

Kocharian and Sergeyev deemed Armeno-Russian relations as efficient and productive.

The two sides discussed further military cooperation and issues concerning developing and strengthening existing military ties.

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