A senior Pentagon official met with Armenia’s defense and foreign ministers during a visit to Yerevan on Wednesday.
Official Armenian sources said Laura Cooper, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, discussed with them ways of boosting defense and security ties between the United States and Armenia.
A statement by the Armenian Defense Ministry said Cooper told Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan that Washington is ready to continue working with Yerevan in advancing their “numerous common interests.” Those include regional security, the statement cited her as saying.
Both Tonoyan and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian were reported to assure Cooperate at their separate meetings that the Armenian government is committed to closer military cooperation with the U.S. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mnatsakanian said it also stands ready to “continue and expand its contribution to international peacekeeping efforts and humanitarian operations.”
Armenia currently contributes roughly 160 troops to NATO-led missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Cooper praised those deployments during her talks in Yerevan.
The U.S. official announced her plans to visit Armenia when she spoke at a reception hosted by the Armenian Embassy in Washington in January. She said she is intent on “learning first hand how we can deepen the defense and security ties between our two countries.”
U.S. military assistance to Armenia has totaled about $50 million since 2002. A large part of it has been provided to the Armenian army’s Peacekeeping Brigade whose soldiers serve in Afghanistan, Kosovo as well as Lebanon and Mali.