Armenia and India are continuing to discuss ways of forging military ties based on the existing “excellent” relationship between the two states, the Indian ambassador in Yerevan said on Thursday.
“The two sides are discussing cooperation in this area,” Yogeshwar Sangwan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I don’t have a clear timetable [for Indian-Armenian defense cooperation] but it will happen in due course on the basis of bilateral negotiations.”
Sangwan said India is interested in deepening relations with “friendly” Armenia “in all areas.” “Even in the area of defense, we are open to cooperation with Armenia,” he added. “The issue has already been discussed by the Armenian and Indian governments and we will move forward. Whatever is possible we will definitely do.”
Visiting Yerevan in late April, India’s Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari said that military cooperation is on the agenda of Indian-Armenian intergovernmental dealings. He said the two sides intend to “further our cooperation in the areas of common interest.”
Just three weeks later, an Armenian Defense Ministry delegation travelled to India for talks with senior Indian defense officials which a ministry statement said were aimed at “exploring opportunities and reaching agreements.” The delegation was headed by Levon Ayvazian, head of the ministry’s defense policy department.
According to the May 20 statement, the two sides affirmed their “mutual interest in utilizing as the great potential for cooperation in the area of defense.” It said they reached unspecified agreements on “military-technical” cooperation and joint training programs between the two militaries.
While in India, the Armenian delegation also visited a number of Indian army bases and defense enterprises. It familiarized itself with items manufactured by them and discussed with Indian officials “mutually beneficial variants of developing cooperation in this direction,” according to the Defense Ministry in Yerevan.
India’s arch-foe Pakistan staunchly supports Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, refusing to not only establish diplomatic relations with Armenia but also formally recognize the latter as an independent state. Speaking after talks in Baku with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last October, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said they agreed to boost defense ties between their nations. In particular, Azerbaijan would like to buy sophisticated Pakistani weapons, Aliyev said.
Sangwan insisted that Pakistan is not a factor behind India’s desire to reinforce its already “very strong” rapport with Armenia. “Our relationship with Armenia is independent of any outside influence,” the Indian ambassador said. “We don’t allow third parties to influence our relations.”