Russian Armenian Azeri Defense Leaders to Meet

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass)–The defense ministers of Russia–Armenia and Azerbaijan were scheduled to meet in Moscow Wednesday to discuss the cease-fire in Nagorno Karabakh.

Armenian Minister Vagarshak Harutiunian told reporters Tuesday that the meeting would be held at the initiative of his Russian counterpart–Igor Sergeyev.

The talks are expected to focus on "boosting the cease-fire regime" in Nagorno-Karabakh. A cease-fire agreement was signed in 1994 and has been observed to date.

Harutiunian also announced that Russia will keep its military bases in Armenia–adding that the term of their presence may be extended.

There are "clear justifications" for the presence of the Russian military in Armenia–he told reporters Tuesday after signing with his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev a cooperation plan between their ministries for 2000.

The Russian military "is fulfilling the tasks of protecting the interests of Russia and Armenia" while staying on Armenian territory–Harutiunian said adding that the term for the presence of the Russian military was set at 25 years and the possibility to extend it has been discussed.

Relations between the defense ministries of the two countries will be developed and perfected–Harutiunian said–adding "We will be paying more attention to interaction and joint training,".

Sergeyev said that the development of relations between the defense ministries of Russia and Armenia is in line with the "mutual interests of the two countries" and they "assume a specific nature." Cooperation is aimed at ensuring military security of our states–Sergeyev said.

He stressed that their cooperation was not directed against third countries. "Everything is being done for the purposes of security and stability in the region and in the entire Caucasus," he said.


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