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Armenia Reaffirms Commitment To Closer NATO Relations

Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian (left) and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian (center) at the NATO meeting in Brussels on May 12
YEREVAN -- Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian have reportedly reaffirmed their country's commitment to pursue closer ties with NATO, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The two officials made their comments at NATO headquarters in Brussels at an annual review of cooperation with the Western alliance on May 12.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the two officials briefed the body representing the 28 NATO member states on the current status of Yerevan's Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) and the defense reforms Yerevan has carried out.

A ministry statement said they also answered "numerous questions" from council members relating to Armenian foreign policy and recent developments in the region.

"On behalf of their states, the ambassadors of NATO member states voiced support for Armenia's steps aimed at the establishment of peace, stability, and security in the South Caucasus," the Armenian Foreign Ministry statement read.

The cooperation framework launched in 2005 commits Armenia to implementing defense reforms aimed at bringing its military into greater conformity with NATO standards and practices. The IPAP also envisages greater Armenian participation in NATO-led multinational missions and military exercises.

The Armenian military most recently hosted such drills in late 2008.

Armenia is also a member of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, having deployed a 40-strong army detachment near the northern Afghan city of Konduz earlier this year. Another 70 Armenian soldiers have been serving under NATO command in Kosovo.

Armenian leaders have repeatedly made clear that despite their desire to forge closer security links with the West, Armenia has no plans to seek NATO membership and will remain a part of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization in the foreseeable future.

The military alliance with Russia has been a key element of Armenia's security doctrine since independence, and Russia still maintains a military base in Armenia close to the border with Turkey.