By Anna Saghabalian
A senior Chinese military official met with Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan on Thursday to discuss what officials described as growing military cooperation between Armenia and China.
“Special attention was paid to the military cooperation between the two countries,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement issued after the talks between Sarkisian and Major-General Jiang Lihua, deputy head of the Chinese Defense Ministry’s foreign relations department. “It was noted that that cooperation has a strong foundation and is deepening day by day.”
Jiang was quoted as saying that his country pays “a great deal of attention” to relations with Yerevan in various spheres, including defense. Sarkisian, for his part, thanked Beijing for its “assistance” provided to the Armenian military.
Few details of that assistance have been made public so far. The Defense Ministry statement revealed that ten Armenian nationals have already graduated from Chinese military academies and six others are due to be enrolled in them this year. It indicated that the Chinese side is ready to train more Armenian army officers if Yerevan expresses such a desire.
The military ties prompted strong protests from Azerbaijan in the late 1990s following reports about supplies to Armenia of Chinese-made Typhoon missiles with a reported firing range of at least 100 kilometers.
Sarkisian’s office also announced that President Robert Kocharian will pay an official visit to China next month. It said the trip will give a new impetus to the relations between the two “fraternal countries.”