Former President Robert Kocharian visited Iran this week in a private capacity even though he was invited by the Iranian government, official Yerevan said on Friday.
A spokesman for Kocharian similarly stated that the two-day trip had an “friendly and unofficial” character. Victor Soghomonian told RFE/RL that the invitation was extended by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
“The former president certainly went there on a private visit but at the invitation of the Islamic Republic’s leadership,” Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian told reporters earlier in the day.
Nalbandian seemed to downplay the significance of the trip as well as statements that were attributed to Kocharian by Iranian media outlets. They quoted him as telling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mottaki that Armenia remains committed to deepening its political and economic ties with Iran.
“I have heard about statements saying that Armenia is in favor of expanding relations with Iran,” said Nalbandian. “Was that a secret? This was said when Mr. Kocharian was president of the Republic of Armenia and this is being said today. I see nothing extraordinary there.”
“Were any statements contradicting what Armenia wants now made? No. I think there is no need to create artificial problems,” added the minister.
Soghomonian claimed, however, that Kocharian made no political statements in Tehran. “In all likelihood, what happened is the result of a misunderstanding or incorrect translation by media,” he said, referring to the Iranian news reports.
According to the official IRNA news agency, Kocharian told Ahmadinejad that the two neighboring states “enjoy ample untapped capacities to increase current level of mutual and regional relations and cooperation.” Another Iranian news agency cited the former Armenian leader as criticizing “foreign powers’ prescriptions for resolving crises in the Caucasus region” during the meeting with Mottaki.