Sarkisian Backs US ‘Anti Terrorist’ Effort

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian indicated Wednesday that Yerevan will support the United States’ military action against suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan and other Islamic states in retaliation for last week’s attacks in New York and Washington.

"Armenia can not fail to support anti-terrorist actions. There is no question about it," Sarkisian told reporters in Yerevan.

The minister–who is one of the country’s most influential government officials–made similar commen’s at a meeting on Tuesday with the outgoing US ambassador to Armenia–Michael. He was quoted by his press service as saying that "the American people’s resolve to combat international terrorism will yield a desirable result."

"We talked about various issues in detail and I think that we must definitely support them," Sarkisian said of the meeting with Lemmon. But he declined to specify what concrete forms Yerevan’s support for the anticipated US strikes will take–referring the question to President Robert Kocharian.

In a statement last Wednesday condemning the terror attacks on behalf of Armenia–Russia–Belarus–Kazakhstan–Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan–Kocharian said the six signatories to the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty are ready to provide support for a global fight against terrorism. The statement called for joint action against international terror networks which it said were behind the hijackings of four US commercial planes.

However–Russian leaders have spoken out against the use of airports and other military facilities in former Soviet republics by US troops. President Vladimir Putin said in Yerevan over the weekend that Washington should present "trustworthy and reliable" evidence before hitting suspected terrorist targets.

Meanwhile–to the foreign ministry in Yerevan reported that the Armenian ambassador to Iran–Gegham Gharibjanian–asked for a moment of sympathy for the victims of the devastating attacks at an official reception in Tehran on Saturday dedicated to the tenth anniversary of Armenia’s independence. The gathering was attended by high-ranking Iranian government officials.

Iran–which does not have diplomatic relations with America–has strongly condemned the attacks in an unprecedented show of support for one of its main international foes.

Meanwhile–Sarkisian welcomed Cyprus Defense Minister Socrates Hasikos and his delegation in Yerevan on Wednesday for a three-day official visit to explore the prospects for launching an Armenian-Cypriot military cooperation program–reported the Noyan Tapan news agency

Both leaders agreed that the of Armenia-Greece-Cyprus axle and Armenia-Iran-Greece cooperation was very important and should be elaborated.

They also stated that the intergovernmental committees–responsible for creating closer ties between these countries–are effectively cooperating. Sarkissian also stated that an increase of economic cooperation is a very important priority for the two. He stressed that Armenia’supports Cyprus’ position in the Cyprus conflict settlement. The importance of struggle against terrorism and large cooperation in this sphere were also stated. Sarkissian there are many areas of mutual interests for both nations–making negotiations more pleasant and cooperative.

Hasikos referred to cultural–religious–and other similarities between Armenia’s and Cypriot Greeks–describing the two nations as brothers.

Hasikos is expected to meet with Parliament Chairman Armen Khachatrian and Prime Minister Andranik Margarian. He also intends to visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial.

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