Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian flew to Tehran on Monday for an official visit that will underscore what appears to be growing military cooperation between Armenia and Iran.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said Sargsian will meet with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehqan to discuss “the current state of bilateral defense cooperation and prospects for its development.” They will also touch upon “international and regional security,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement added that Sargsian, who was appointed as defense minister less than four months ago, will also hold talks with other senior Iranian officials and visit “various scientific-research and industrial enterprises.” It did not name those entities.
Iran’s Deputy Defense Minister Nasrollah Kalantari visited Yerevan and met Sargsian and two of his deputies in October. One of them, Davit Pakhchanian, runs a Defense Ministry division overseeing the Armenian defense industry.
Another Armenian deputy defense minister, General Movses Hakobian travelled to Iran in June. Hakobian was in charge of arms and other procurements at that time and became chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff in October.
During that trip, Hakobian held talks with the chief executive of Iran’s state-run ETKA corporation that supplies food, clothing and other non-lethal items to the Iranian military. The Armenian Defense Ministry reported at the time that he reached agreements with the Iranian side on “the advancement of cooperation in a number of areas.” It did not elaborate.
ETKA’s top executives visited Armenia and met with then Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian in February 2016. Ohanian and Dehqan held talks in Moscow in late April just weeks after the outbreak of heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
President Serzh Sarkisian again praised Tehran’s “balanced position” on the Karabakh conflict when he received Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in December. Rouhani said after their talks that there can be no military solution to the conflict.