YEREVAN -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his key ministers have underlined the importance of the country's "friendly" relationship with the United States and called for its further development at a meeting with a visiting top U.S. diplomat, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow arrived in Yerevan on September 11 for a three-day visit that concluded her latest tour of the region. Official Armenian sources said her talks with Sarkisian, Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian centered on bilateral U.S.-Armenian ties and the unresolved conflict over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Sarkisian was quoted by his press office as telling Kaidanow on September 13 that the "high level" of those ties and their further deepening are an "important factor" in Armenia's economic development and regional stability. He also praised the U.S. role in international efforts to broker a solution to the Karabakh conflict.
A statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Nalbandian reaffirmed Yerevan's commitment to bolstering "multifaceted relations" and a "friendly partnership" with Washington when he met Kaidanow on September 12. He added that U.S.-Armenian relations have reached "a qualitatively new level" this year.
Nalbandian pointed to Sarkisian's April talks in Washington with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's July visit to Armenia. Clinton heaped praise on Sarkisian's policy of rapprochement with Turkey during the trip, which the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said "highlighted the U.S. government's strong partnership with Armenia."
Kaidanow's separate talks with Ohanian, also held on September 12, centered on increased military cooperation between the two countries. Ohanian called it "one of the important pillars of the Armenian defense policy."
A Defense Ministry statement added that both interlocutors stressed "the imperative to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh problem in a peaceful manner." The dispute was also reportedly high on the agenda of Kaidanow's meeting with Nalbandian.
No details of the Karabakh-related discussions were made public. As was the case during her previous trips to Yerevan, Kaidanow avoided any contact with local media.
The U.S. official was also scheduled to meet Armenian opposition leaders; however, none of the country's leading opposition groups had reported such meetings as of late on September 13.