YEREVAN — Armenia has denied holding any “substantive or technical” talks with the United Kingdom on the possibility of accepting illegal migrants expelled from that country after a British newspaper reported on this, citing “leaked” documents.

The Times claimed on Sunday that the Foreign Office has shortlisted more countries to conduct negotiations with for “third-country asylum processing deals” similar to the one signed with Rwanda.

“Britain has entered talks to replicate the Rwanda migrant deportation scheme with Armenia, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica and Botswana, according to leaked documents that reveal the government’s extensive search for another third-country deal,” the paper wrote.

The report named several South American countries that it said were “less likely to be interested” in the kind of deal and several African nations that it said were on a “reserve list” or “explicitly declined” to even engage in such negotiations.

In reply to a request by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service to comment on the publication, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry did not specify whether there had been such an offer from the United Kingdom.

“The Republic of Armenia and the United Kingdom have a broad agenda of political dialogue, but there were no substantive or technical negotiations on the specific issue raised in the publication,” it said.

Nelly Davtyan, deputy head of the Migration and Citizenship Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, has also denied this information.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs, in particular the Migration and Citizenship Service, is not and has never been involved in such negotiations,” Nelly Davtyan emphasized, adding that there is no such issue on their agenda.

Armenia and the United Kingdom launched what both sides described as “strategic dialogue” between their two countries last year when Leo Docherty, then Under Secretary of State for Europe of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, visited Armenia in May and then Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan paid an official visit to London in November.

Official reports about the visits did not include any mention of discussions on issues like illegal migrants from third countries.

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