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Trump Congratulates New Armenian Leader


US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Elkhart, Indiana on May 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB

U.S. President Donald Trump has congratulated Nikol Pashinian on becoming Armenia’s prime minister and said his administration will cooperate with the new Armenian government on “the many areas of mutual interest.”

“I look forward to working with you on the many areas of mutual interest for our two countries, including strengthening trade ties, democratic institutions, and regional security,” Trump said in a letter posted on the Armenian premier’s website on Wednesday.

“Progress on fighting corruption, bringing all political parties together, and peacefully solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will help these efforts and ensure Armenia’s bright future,” he wrote.

The U.S. State Department issued a similar statement hours after the Armenian parliament voted to elect Pashinian as prime minister following weeks of massive anti-government protests organized by him. It said Washington will “work closely” with his government.

Pashinian’s chief of staff, Eduard Aghajanian, welcomed the congratulatory letter from Trump. “I think this testifies to the existence of a new kind of government [in Armenia] and its perception by the world,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Aghajanian said that a deepening of U.S.-Armenian ties is “inevitable.” “I am confident that our relations with all countries and the U.S. in particular have a very serious potential for development,” he said.

“We too are ready to cooperate on the areas mentioned by the U.S. president,” added the Armenian official.

Washington closely monitored the recent dramatic developments in Armenia that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and his replacement by Pashinian. The State Department repeatedly urged Armenia political factions to embark on dialogue.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell had phone conversations with Pashinian and then Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on April 30. A few days earlier, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Richard Mills, met with Pashinian and then acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetian to try to help ease political tensions in the country.

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