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US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will make a brief visit to Armenia on Saturday as part of a regional tour that will be dominated by the ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan, the Pentagon confirmed on Friday.

News agencies quoted a Pentagon spokeswoman, Victoria Clarke, as saying that Rumsfeld will leave for a trip to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia before attending next week's NATO meeting in Brussels.

“He is going to meet with senior officials in those countries to discuss the war on terrorism," Clarke said. “It's important to discuss with the leaders in the region and continue to reaffirm what it is we are trying to accomplish, continue to reaffirm how important it is to have these evolving and changing coalitions that we have. And to underscore the importance and the incredibly positive contributions of lots of different people from lots of different nations," she said.

Rumsfeld is due to meet with President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. He is scheduled to hold a news conference in Yerevan after the talks.

The three former Soviet republics of the Caucasus have offered Washington use of their airspace for US military action in Afghanistan, where Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden is believed hiding.
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