U.S. and Armenia strengthen military ties

Associated Press Worldstream
March 31, 2004 Wednesday 3:10 PM Eastern Time

U.S. and Armenia strengthen military ties

YEREVAN, Armenia

The United States and Armenia strengthened military cooperation on
Wednesday, and a U.S. officer involved in planning for a major
realignment of American forces abroad said servicemen from the former
Soviet republic will soon be in Iraq.

The Armenian parliament ratified an agreement setting rules for the
presence of NATO forces on its soil under the Western alliance’s
Partnership for Peace program, which involves nonmembers in NATO
exercises and other activities.

Meanwhile, the an office on military cooperation has opened at the
U.S. Embassy in Armenia to handle military aid and training as well
as humanitarian aid to the small country in the Caucasus – a
strategically important region bordered by Russia, NATO-member Turkey
and U.S. foe Iran.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Kohler said Armenian peacekeepers
have done a good job in Kosovo and that the United States is proud to
have the country’s support in the fight against terrorism. Kohler
said Armenian servicemen will soon take part in what he called the
restoration of Iraq, adding that the countries are discussing the
deployment of Armenian sappers there.

Kohler, the European Command’s point man on planning for force
reconfiguration, gave assurances that the United States does not plan
to base forces in neighboring Azerbaijan – Armenia’s foe after a
six-year war over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave that ended with an
uneasy cease-fire in 1994.

The U.S. Defense Department said last December the United States was
considering cutting and reconfiguring U.S. forces in Europe as part
of a broader effort to restructure the military for 21st century
threats, and there has been speculation the shift could bring more
U/S, military activity to former Soviet satellites and republics.