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Armenia not to strengthen relations with U.S. at Russia's expense - defense minister

YEREVAN, October 18 (RIA Novosti, Gamlet Matevosyan) - The Armenian defense minister, speaking during a visit from U.S. diplomats in the run-up to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit to the country, said Armenia was not trying to strengthen relations with the U.S. at Russia's expense.

Serzh Sarkisyan said, "We want to have friendly relations both with the Russian Federation and with the United States. Armenia and its people will only gain from this."

Speaking of his upcoming visit to the U.S., Sarkisyan said it was unlikely to be decisive in solving key issues but was important for developing military cooperation with the U.S.

U.S. Assistant Secretary Of State Daniel Fried and Co-chairman of the OSCE's (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Minsk Group Steven Mann arrived in Armenia Tuesday.

During their visit, the diplomats will meet with Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and other senior politicians. They will discuss bilateral relations, democratic reform in Armenia, defense cooperation, and resolution of the conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed Karabakh region.

Rumsfeld is expected to visit Armenia on October 23.

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