Relations between the United States and Armenia are now “stronger than ever before” and have the potential to deepen further, President Serzh Sarkisian told U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday.
“The traditionally friendly relations between our nations and the ongoing high-level political dialogue between our states in the recent period possess a significant potential to further expand and improve,” Sarkisian wrote in a letter congratulating Obama on his 50th birthday anniversary.
“We are determined to deepen and strengthen comprehensive ties between our countries in all areas of mutual interest,” he said.
Sarkisian has pursued closer ties with Washington since taking office in April 2008. While criticizing Yerevan’s human rights record, the Obama administration has been very supportive of his foreign policy moves and, in particular, a rapprochement with Turkey.
Obama praised the Armenian leader’s “courageous efforts” to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations when the two met in Washington in April 2010. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton likewise described Sarkisian’s policy on Turkey as “very statesmanlike” during a July 2010 visit to Yerevan.
“The United States and Armenia have many connections and relationships that span politics and go into family and so much else that is very important to us,” Clinton told the visiting Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian in Washington last May.
The Sarkisian government is also seeking to strengthen Armenia’s defense and security links with the U.S. while continuing to rely heavily on a military alliance with Russia. The Armenian Defense Ministry announced late last month that the two countries have tentatively agreed to hold first-ever bilateral military exercises in the near future.
The agreement was reached during two days of “defense consultations” held in Washington by senior U.S. and Armenian military officials. One of those officials, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander, visited Yerevan in late June.
Meeting with Wallander, Sarkisian praised the U.S. engagement with Armenia and the rest of the region.