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Armenia To Send Troops To Afghanistan

Thirty Armenian soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan

Thirty Armenian soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan

YEREVAN -- A senior NATO official says Armenia will soon send a small contingent of troops to Afghanistan to assist the United States and its NATO allies against the Taliban insurgency, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Robert Simmons, NATO's special representative to the South Caucasus, said during a visit to Yerevan on Friday that 30 Armenian soldiers are expected to be sent to Afghanistan early next year.

Simmons expressed NATO's "appreciation to Armenia for its strong contributions" to alliance missions, which he said began in Kosovo and will now be repeated in Afghanistan.

An Armenian Defense Ministry official said the government will soon ask parliament to approve the deployment. The Armenian military and NATO representatives have reportedly been discussing the deployment for the past two years.

Despite not yet having troops on the ground, Armenia is already listed by NATO as one of the 43 member and partner states that make up the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. ISAF currently includes more than 70,000 soldiers, about half of them American.

Armenia's neighbors Turkey and Azerbaijan also participate in ISAF with 720 and 90 troops, respectively.