Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian flew to Afghanistan on Monday to discuss the future of Armenia’s military presence there with Afghan military leaders and NATO commanders on the ground.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said Ohanian will meet with Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, General Nick Carter, the British deputy commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan, and General Erich Pfeffer, the commander of ISAF’s German-led Regional Command North.
“Issues of mutual interest related to Armenia’s involvement in ISAF and further programs will be discussed during the meetings,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement added that Ohanian will also visit the northern Afghan cities of Kunduz and Mazar-e-Sharif to inspect 130 Armenian soldiers serving there under German command.
Armenia tripled the size of its Afghan military contingent in June last year. Ohanian said at the time that the additional troop deployment in Afghanistan will boost Armenia’s ties with NATO and raise its international profile.
“We are grateful for Armenia’s contribution to our ISAF mission in Afghanistan,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said during a recent visit to Yerevan.
With the United States planning end combat operations in Afghanistan next year, the NATO-led international military force there is due to be withdrawn the end of 2014. Rasmussen said in May that a new and different NATO mission will advise, train and assist the Afghan army after that. Yerevan has yet to announce whether it would like to participate in that mission.
Armenian troops were first deployed in Afghanistan in early 2010. Ohanian visited them shortly afterwards.