Armenian president to travel to Iran for talks

Leaders expected to discuss Iran's nuclear program and fate of Armenia's natural gas network.

robert kocharian (photo credit:)
robert kocharian
(photo credit: )
Natural gas supplies are expected to top the agenda when Armenian President Robert Kocharian meets his Iranian counterpart in Teheran on Wednesday.Iran is building a pipeline to supply Armenia with badly needed natural gas, much of which now comes from Russia. Earlier this spring, OAO Gazprom announced a deal that would give the Russian state-controlled gas monopoly ownership rights to the Armenian segment of a planned pipeline; Armenian officials, however, denied they were turning control of the pipeline over to Gazprom.Armenian officials would not reveal the specific agenda of the talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the entire trip to Iran, but Armenia's energy and foreign ministers are among the officials accompanying Kocharian.Neighboring Iran and Armenia have close economic and political ties; the Armenian leader is also planning to meet representatives of Iran's ethnic Armenian community.The visit also comes amid mounting pressure on Iran to respond positively to an international package of incentives aimed at defusing the standoff over its nuclear program.Western nations have threatened to reactivate efforts to seek punitive UN Security Council sanctions unless it suspends uranium enrichment and agrees to talks by July 12.A statement by Kocharian made no mention of the issue. Reached by telephone in Teheran, presidential spokesman Viktor Sogomonian refused to say whether the two leaders would be discussing the standoff."Of course, all questions of international cooperation and regional issues will also be the focus of the talks," Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Karapetian said.