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By Armen Dulian
President Vladimir Putin welcomed the “truly allied character” of Russia’s relationship with Armenia as he received his Armenian counterparty Robert Kocharian in his summer retreat in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Thursday.

“It is very pleasant to note that our relations are developing well, that our trade is growing, not to mention our relations in the political sphere,” Putin told Kocharian at the start of their meeting, in remarks broadcast by Russian television.

Kocharian agreed with Putin, singling out growing economic and military-technical cooperation between the two countries. He said the two leaders need to meet regularly to “review their positions” and “consult” on issues of mutual interest. No further details were reported.

Neither the Kremlin, nor official Yerevan detailed the agenda of the Sochi talks when announcing them on Wednesday. Observers expected Russia’s growing economic presence in Armenia to feature large during the talks. Meeting with Kocharian in Moscow in October last year, Putin publicly deplored the fact that Russia’s is not Armenia’s number one foreign investor.

Sergey Markov, a Russian political analyst, was quoted by a Russian news agency as saying that he believes the “issue of the handover of power” in Armenia will also be discussed in Sochi.

Kocharian, who will complete his final term in office early next year, has sought and relied on Moscow’s support throughout his nine-year presidency. His most likely successor, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, is also thought to consider such support essential for winning Armenia’s approaching presidential elections.

(Photolur photo)
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