YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — George Kent, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Yerevan on Monday for talks that reportedly focused on regional security and the Armenian government’s ambitious reform agenda.
A government statement said Pashinian briefed George Kent on wide-ranging reforms planned by his cabinet and its efforts to combat corruption. Armenia is “firmly going down the path of democratic development,” he said.
The statement cited Kent as saying that the United States is interested in Armenia’s democratization and economic development. The U.S. is therefore ready to assist Pashinian’s government in implementing the promised reforms, the diplomat was reported to add.
The outgoing U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Richard Mills, revealed last week that Washington provided Armenia with $14 million in additional aid following last spring’s dramatic change of the country’s government.
In a September 21 message to Pashinian, U.S. President Donald Trump praised the mass protests that brought the 43-year-old former journalist to power in May. “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,” wrote Trump.
Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is due to visit Yerevan later this month as part of a tour of Russia and the three South Caucasus states. Bolton said last week that the main purpose of the trip is to “advance American interests on a range of security issues.”
Pashinian’s press office said international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and other “regional challenges” were also on the agenda of the Armenian leader’s talks with Kent. But it did not elaborate.
Pashinian has expressed readiness to “strengthen and expand” Armenia’s relationship with the U.S. But he has ruled major changes in Armenian foreign policy traditionally oriented towards Russia.