Armenian President Begins Moscow Visit

MOSCOW (RFE/RL–Noyan Tapan)–On the first full day of his official visit to Moscow–President Robert Kocharian held talks on 25 September with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov–Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov..

The talks with Kasyanov focused primarily on expanding bilateral economic cooperation–which both sides described as lagging behind cooperation in other spheres. In an interview published in "Izvestiya" last week–Kocharian had said that the majority of questions he hoped to address in his talks with Russian leaders concerned economic issues and problems. Itar-Tass quoted both Kasyanov and Kocharian as deploring the fact that trade turnover between the two countries declined by 20 percent over the first five months of this year–and expressing the hope that that trend will be reversed. Also discussed were the prospects for expanding cooperation in the energy and transport sectors–and Armenia’s $113 million debt to Russia.

Four bilateral inter-governmental agreemen’s were signed. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov signed an agreement on the status of media correspondents–an agreement on cooperation in the information sphere–and one establishing a visa-free regime for citizens of the two countries. That latter agreement supplants the CIS agreement on visa-free travel from which Russia withdrew last month.

In addition–Armenian Energy Minister Karen Galustian and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Adamov signed an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

On September 26 Kocharian will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin–Armed Forces Chief of General Staff Anatolii Kvashnin and the chairmen of the Federation Council and the State Duma–Yegor Stroev and Gennadii Seleznev.

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