22 June 2004

Armenia to help in Iraq reconstruction

For many months now we are hearing about the desire of Armenia to take part in the reconstruction effort in postwar Iraq. It seems that the security situation in Iraq is getting worse these days, especially before the designated date (30th June 2004) of transfer of power to the Iraqi interim Government. Nevertheless the Armenian technical and professional team can be useful in helping Iraq to cope with the challenges. Being known by all Iraqis (as a neighbouring nation and a minority in Iraq) I believe that the Armenian technical assistance will not face any hostility by the local population. Some of these experts can be directly useful for the Armenian Community of Iraq, serving their humanitarian needs.

WASHINGTON, June 18 (United Press International) -- Armenia is the latest country to join President Bush's "Coalition of the Willing," in rebuilding Iraq.

In an interview with UPI earlier this week, Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said his country would contribute, albeit in "a very symbolic" way.

"We are ready to become engaged in rebuilding Iraq, but our resources are very modest, so it's going to be a very modest contribution, nevertheless, the willingness is there."

Armenia, Oskanian said, will be contributing doctors, medical personnel and experts to help clear mines, as well as trucks, drivers and technicians. The force amounts to about 100 people.

The minister said he believes all neighboring countries in the region should contribute to the normalization of Iraq. Iraq's Armenian community is comprised of roughly 25,000 people.

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