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NATO Courts Armenia

Armenia is to increase its military cooperation with the West as a means of enhancing regional stability.
By Ara Tadevosian

The arrival of US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Armenia later this week will seal a new initiative designed to increase military cooperation between the two countries.

Rumsfeld's stopover on December 15 comes during a two-month long Pentagon visit which has surprised many, given the fact Armenia has long been Russia's staunchest ally in the region.

The newly appointed US ambassador to Armenia, John Ordway, had earlier caused a stir in Yerevan when he called for closer military ties.

Ordway was paving the way for the latest move in Armenia's new "complementary policy" - a means of accommodating both Russia and the US. Yerevan believes that this is necessary for enhanced stability in the region.

Armenian foreign minister, Vardan Oskanian, said he believed that bringing the US and Russia closer together would help ease tensions in the south Caucasus by allowing the two sides to act as partners rather than rivals.

It seems likely that the process of building stronger military ties with the US - already suggested by President Robert Kocharian back in March - was accelerated by the events of September 11 and the consequent US-led "war on terrorism".

Since Russian and US relations improved as a result, Yerevan saw no contradiction in cosying up to Washington.

The visiting American delegation has already agreed on a financial package for the Armenian army and US military attach

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