Washington briefing: State Dept. report notes Armenia’s “active interest” in aiding the U.S. in Afghanistan

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday May 02, 2009

In July 2000, then–Defense Secretary William Cohen (left) signs a nonproliferation deal with Armenia’s Serge Sargsian. Department of Defense

Washington - After Armenian peacekeepers completed their mission in Iraq last October, "the Armenian Ministry of Defense has expressed active interest in sending a peacekeeping contingent to Afghanistan in support of the International Security Assistance Force," according to the State Department's annual "Country reports on terrorism 2008," released on April 30.

Discussions of such a deployment were already reported in October 2007, when the then-prime minister Serge Sargsian visited the United States.

Overall, the report registered a considerable decline in terrorism-related fatalities from the high of 22,500 deaths in 2007 to under 16,000 in 2008. While there was a decline in terrorist activity in Iraq, an increase was registered in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan.

The report also noted that "Armenia's counterterrorism partnership with the United States included granting blanket over-flight clearance and ad hoc landing rights to U.S. military aircraft," as well as cooperation on non­proliferation issues.

(Arminfo reported on April 29 that the Armenian Defense Ministry asked the National Assembly to ratify a prolongation of the July 24, 2000, U.S.-Armenia Agreement on Counterproliferation. The agreement, which became the first in a series of U.S.-Armenia security agreements, was signed during an earlier visit to the U.S. by Mr. Sargsian, who was minister of defense at the time.)

While referring to "measured progress in implementing border security and anti-trafficking measures," the U.S. report retained some of the concerns expressed about Armenia last year.

The concerns included reported "widespread corruption" that hampered counterterrorism efforts as well "interest in strengthening its ties with Iran," that was said to lead to Armenia's reluctance "to participate in international efforts that criticized or placed pressure on Iran."

Like last year, the report expressed no such concerns with regard to Azerbaijan or Georgia.

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