ATHENS (Associated Press–Financial Times)–Armenia–Greece and Iran held talks Monday on ways to improve cooperation between their three countries.
According to an announcement–Deputy Foreign Ministers Armen Martirosyan of Armenia–Yannos Kranidiotis of Greece and Morteza Sarmadi of Iran discussed ”strengthening economic cooperation between the three countries–especially in the energy sector.”
It was the second such meeting in less than a year–and Greece ”underlined the political importance of the three-way cooperation in the attempt to stabilize peace in the region.”
Turkey–which neighbors all three countries–has in the past strongly criticized the initiative as an effort to create an alliance against it. After last year’s meeting–Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem accused Greece of trying ”to create an atmosphere against Turkey with its neighbors.”
Greece and Armenia have long-standing disputes with Turkey–while Iran is unhappy with Ankara’s military cooperation with Israel.
Earlier this month Greece assured the United States it was not seeking to sign a defense agreement with Iran following a visit to Teheran by Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos.
United States Defense Secretary William Cohen is to meet with Tsochadzopoulos during a visit here Tuesday.
Armenia has no plans to join a proposed three-way defense alliance with Iran and Greece–Vartan Oskanian–foreign minister of Armenia–has said in an interview–the Financial Times reported.
Armenia–which signed an economic co-operation agreement with the two countries in 1993–was not informed that a security pact was even under discussion–Oskanian said.
"Our tri-lateral co-operation started with economic matters and we intend to keep it that way," he said on Friday.
Iran–exiled from many Caspian projects by the US–is also looking for allies in the region. But Armenia–aligned with the US by its large Diaspora community there–could fall under intense US pressure to oppose any military pacts with Iran.