Armenian Leadership Praises Ties With US During High Ranking State Dept. Visit

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–President Serzh Sarkisian and his key ministers have underlined the importance of Armenia’s “friendly” relationship with the United States and called for its further expansion at a meeting with a visiting top U.S. diplomat, RFE/RL reported.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow arrived in Yerevan Saturday on a three-day visit that concluded her latest tour of the region. According official Armenian sources, she met with Sarkisian, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian. Official Armenian sources said her meetings focused on U.S.-Armenian relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

According to the Presidential Press Office, Sarkisian told Kaidanow on Monday that the deepening of US-Armenian relations was a “highly value” goal by his administration and an “important factor” for Armenia’s “economic development and the maintenance of regional peace and stability.”

A similar statement released Sunday from Armenian Foreign Ministry Eduard Nalbandian also reaffirmed Official Yerevan’s commitment to strengthening US-Armenia relations, Armenian Public Radio reported. According to RFE/RL, Nalbandian said Armenia’s relationship with America is a “multi-faceted” and “friendly partnership” that has reached “a qualitatively new level” this year.

Citing the statement, RFE/RL said Nalbandian pointed to Sarkisian’s Washington talks with President Obama in April, and Clinton’s praise for Sarkisian’s policy on Turkey as evidence of the “strong partnership” between the two governments.

Kaidanow held separate talks with Defense Ministry Ohanian on Sunday, where she underscored increased military cooperation between the two countries, RFE/RL reported.

According to Armenian Public Radio, The State Department official discussed with Ohanian Armenia’s role in the War in Afghanistan and the current status of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations process. Ohanian’s press office quoted Kaidanow as describing as “imperative” the maintenance of the Karabakh cease-fire regime and the peaceful settlement to the Karabakh conflict.

“Both sides noted the importance of further development of cooperation between the two countries and discussed the planned military cooperation activities,” read the statement. “Tina Kaidanow welcomed Armenian participation in the international security stabilization operations, particularly in Afghanistan and stressed the importance of further bilateral efforts in that regard.”

Ohanian, meanwhile, described Armenia’s participation in the US-led war in Afghanistan as “one of the important pillars of the Armenian defense policy,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was also high on the agenda of Kaidanow’s meeting with Nalbandian, RFE/RL reported, noting, however, that no details of the Karabakh-related discussions were made public.

As was the case during her previous trips to Yerevan, Kaidanow avoided any contacts with local media. The U.S. official was also scheduled to meet Armenian opposition leaders. However, none of the country’s leading opposition groups reported such meetings as of Monday evening, RFE/RL said.

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