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By Hrach Melkumian
China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing held talks with Armenian leaders in Yerevan on Tuesday less than a month after President Robert Kocharian’s state visit to Beijing which the two governments say opened a new page in bilateral relations.

Li told RFE/RL that his meetings with Kocharian and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian focused on ways to “further deepen and reinforce the cooperation between our countries in all spheres: politics, economy, trade, culture and international affairs.”

“The only purpose of my visit here is to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state during the visit last month by the president of Armenia. The two countries reached a lot of agreements,” he said before wrapping up the one-day visit.

Kocharian was cited by his press service as expressing satisfaction at the “high level of political dialogue” between Armenia and China. He told Li that the two nations have “virtually identical approaches to many pressing international problems” and should cement their relationship with closer economic cooperation.

While in China, Kocharian signed a joint declaration with Chinese President Hu Jintao that reaffirmed Yerevan’s unequivocal support for the restoration of Beijing’s control over Taiwan.

Meeting with Li, Markarian noted China’s “positive contribution to peace and stability in the world” and praised Beijing for its “impartial and objective position” on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He also said his center-right Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) will continue to maintain “friendly relations” with China’s ruling Communist Party.

Official Armenian sources singled out chemical industry, agriculture and science as the most promising areas of bilateral economic links. Kocharian’s visit to Beijing saw the signing of a final agreement on the creation of a Chinese-Armenian joint venture in northern China that will produce synthetic rubber. The Armenian side is to provide technical assistance and supply relevant equipment from a huge Soviet-era chemical factory in Yerevan.

According to Markarian’s office, Li promised for his part “large-scale” Chinese investments in Armenia’s economic infrastructure. No details were reported.

The two governments also cooperate in the military field, with China training Armenian citizens at its military academies free of charge. Visiting Yerevan in August, a senior official from the Chinese Defense Ministry said his country is ready to accept more Armenian cadets.

(RFE/RL photo: Li Zhaoxing.)
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