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Trump Hails ‘New Era’ In Armenia


U.S. -- President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, July 31, 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump has praised mass protests that led to regime change in Armenia in May and said his administration stands ready to help the new Armenian government implement sweeping reforms promised by it.

“Armenia has much to celebrate this year,” Trump wrote to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in a congratulatory message on the 27th anniversary of the South Caucasus country’s independence marked on Friday.

“A peaceful, popular movement ushered in a new era in Armenia, and we look forward to working with you to help you execute the will of your people to combat corruption and to establish representative, accountable governance, rule of law buttressed by an independent judiciary, and political and economic competition,” read the message publicized by Pashinian’s office.

“I look forward to further strengthening the partnership that began between our countries one hundred years ago,” it said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly saluted “remarkable changes” in Armenia. “The peaceful popular movement that transformed the government has ushered in an exciting new chapter of Armenian history,” he said in a written statement on the country’s Independence Day.

The U.S. State Department closely monitored the Pashinian-led protests that brought down in late April Armenia’s previous government headed by Serzh Sarkisian. During the political crisis it repeatedly urged Armenia political factions to embark on dialogue.

Trump expressed Washington’s readiness to work with the new authorities in Yerevan on “the many areas of mutual interest” when he congratulated Pashinian on becoming prime minister in May. Pashinian said afterwards that he would like to “strengthen and expand” U.S.-Armenian relations.

The two leaders chatted briefly at a NATO summit in Brussels in July. Pashinian hoped to hold his first talks with Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York which he will address next week. Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian said on Thursday that such a meeting is extremely unlikely.

Pashinian campaigned for Armenia’s withdrawal from a Russia-led alliance of ex-Soviet states and closer ties with the European Union when he was in opposition to the Sarkisian government. However, he ruled any change in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy orientation immediately after coming to power.

Both Trump and Pompeo also stressed the importance of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “The coming months bring opportunities to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which would create even more possibilities for U.S. –Armenian cooperation,” said the U.S. president.

For his part, Pompeo urged the conflicting parties to “resume intensive negotiations as soon as possible.”

The U.S. as well as Russia and France have long been spearheading international efforts to broker a compromise solution to the Karabakh dispute.

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