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Armenian, Russian Presidents Meet In Sochi

Kocharian and Putin met in Sochi in January (ITAR-TASS) August 23, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today hosted his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, on a working visit to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin praised what he described as warm ties between Moscow and Yerevan. "I am very pleased to say that our relations are developing well, that trade is growing, not to mention the relations in the political sphere. These relations truly have become like those between allies," Putin said.

RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported that Yerevan has been tight-lipped about details of the talks. A short statement by Kocharian’s office said only that they will center on “prospects for the development of Russian-Armenian relations.”

Kocharian’s press secretary, Victor Soghomonian, said separately that the Armenian president plans to hold a number of other meetings in Sochi, but did not elaborate.

Political analysts expect Putin and Kocharian to discuss the pipeline pumping Iranian gas to Armenia.

Russia's state-run gas monopoly Gazprom last year took control of the pipeline's Armenian section in exchange for setting gas prices at half of European levels until January 1, 2009. Until that date, Armenia will pay $110 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas.

Analysts say weapons purchases are also likely to top Kocharian's agenda. As a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Armenia is entitled to buy Russian weapons at preferential prices.

Putin and Kocharian previously met in Sochi in January. The one-on-one talks reportedly focused on Russian-Armenian commercial relations, with the two presidents praising Russia’s increased economic presence in Armenia and agreeing to boost it further this year.

At that meeting, Putin noted the absence of “unresolved problems or difficult issues” in Moscow’s ties with Yerevan, and welcomed growing Russian-Armenian trade.

RFE/RL Caucasus Report

RFE/RL Caucasus Report

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