Russian, Armenian Presidents Pledge Deeper Ties

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)–Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday hailed relations with Armenia and pledged to further bilateral ties during talks with his visiting counterpart Serzh Sarkisian.

The two men met in the Kremlin on the second day of Sarkisian’s official visit to Moscow. The visit also involved talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, upper house speaker Sergey Mironov and prominent members of Russia’s sizable Armenian community.

The meeting between the two presidents was followed by a series of bilateral negotiations that focused on the broadening of political and economic relations.

Speaking after the talks, Medvedev said he and Sarkisian reaffirmed a mutual desire to develop their strategic partnership and allied cooperation. The two leaders said that cooperation between Armenia and Russia will be based on a spirit of mutual trust, a respect for sovereignty and security, and the mutual benefit of both countries.

"We are convinced that the close interaction between Russia and Armenia is essential for the stable and dignified development of the entire region," Medvedev told journalists. "And here Russia’s priorities remain unchanged."

Medvedev had suggested the two leaders talk about "the broadest spectrum of questions" during their meeting and welcomed in that regard growing commercial ties between the two countries, which resulted in a 67 percent surge in bilateral trade last year. "It is in our interests to reinforce this positive trend and to further stimulate investmen’s, manufacturing and technological cooperation," he said, citing the presence of leading Russian companies such as Gazprom in Armenia.

The recently elected Russian leader added that he and Sarkisian agreed "on a number of additional steps to push forward large projects" implemented by these and other companies. He did not elaborate.

The visit, which Sarkisian said would take Russian-Armenian relations to a new level, is expected to boost trade and economic relations. According to Medvedev, Russian investment in Armenia has exceeded $1.2 billion dollars, while the volume of mutual investmen’s between the countries is growing.

Armenia, with a population of three million, recorded 13-percent economic growth in 2007 and foreign trade reached 3.8 billion U.S. dollars, according to official statistics.

Sarkisian and Medvedev reiterated the need to boost economic ties between their nations in a separate joint statement signed by them after the meeting. It singled out the energy, mining and telecommunication sectors.

The two leaders also discussed the deepening of military cooperation. Signaling their desire for an early solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the two pledged to take coordinate steps to ensure security and stability in the South Caucasus.

Medvedev said he discussed with the Armenian president "new opportunities for intensifying the negotiation process."

Stronger relations between Armenia and Russia, the statement said, will ensure peace and stability in the Caucasus.

Their joint statement also said that the current stage of relations between the two countries has opened up possibilities that will bring the two countries closer, allowing for the further development of their national economies, as well as the deepening of cultural, scientific, and educational links.

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