By Hrach Melkumian
Armenia and the United States are still discussing practical modalities of the planned deployment of Armenian military personnel in Iraq, U.S. Ambassador John Ordway said on Wednesday.
The Armenian leadership unveiled in August its intention to commit military doctors and a platoon of demining specialists for the U.S-led occupation force which is trying to stabilize the country after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Officials said they are discussing logistical details of the operation with the U.S. military.
Ordway commended Yerevan for the decision and said the discussions are being held through a liaison officer assigned by the Armenian military to the U.S. Central Command in Florida.
“We have received an offer, which we very much appreciate, from the government of Armenia to participate in the coalition peace-keeping forces in Iraq,” he said. “There are technical talks going on right now between the Central Command in Florida and the Armenian military, and once those talks are finished we will know whether and to what extent we will be in a position to accept the offer.”
“It is pretty obvious that if the offer is accepted, it will have to involve some facilitation by the United States in order to actually make that deployment possible,” Ordway added, confirming that Washington will contribute financially to the operation which will make Armenia part of them U.S.-led “coalition of the willing.”
Armenia had initially opposed unilateral U.S military action in Iraq not mandated by the United Nations, but eventually welcomed the overthrow of Saddam’s regime, saying that it only feared for the security of Iraq’s Armenian community. Armenian officials now say that they are interested in Iraq’s post-war stabilization.