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    RUSSIA NOT TO PARTAKE IN NATO WARGAME IN AZERBAIJAN IN SEPTEMBER - SERGEI IVANOV

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    YEREVAN, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not take part in the military exercise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation within the Partnership for Peace programme due to be held in Azerbaijan in September, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told the press conference in Yerevan on Thursday.

    "We participate in an exercise only when we see practical benefit for us proceeding from the national interest, otherwise we are not interested", he said.

    In turn, the Armenian head of the military establishment, Serj Sargsian, said: "Armenia it ready to participate but only as a full-fledged member".

    "What is proposed now - the observer status - is unacceptable", Sargsian said.

    Sergei Ivanov sees no serious problems in Russian-Armenian relations, which have been developing dynamically in recent time.

    "There are not a single big problem existing in our mutual relations", he told journalists.

    During the two-day visit, Sergei Ivanov is going to discuss with his Armenian analogue interaction in the military field, regional security and the situation in some flashpoints.

    Russia has no plans for the build-up of the numerical strength of the 102nd military base in Armenia, the Russian defence minister said. It is not quantity but quality, the provision of arms, the military hardware that matter, he said Serj Sargsian said that he sees it as a rhetoric matter.

    "The answer to this question is certainly 'no'", said the Armenian foreign minister. "We have many times said that we view military contacts with Russia as a component of our national security. This is why the answer will be plain and clear - there will be no withdrawal of the Russian base from Armenia".

    As regards the Russian bases in Georgia, there will be no haste with their pullout from Georgia, the Russian foreign minister said.

    He recalled that the relative talks with Georgia have of late slowed down due to the objective reasons -- the governments in both the countries have changed. "The talks will be continued, and not only on a timeframe for withdrawal but also on a status for the bases", Sergei Ivanov said.

    He said that Armenia has bought two military transport planes Il-76 at the domestic Russian prices in line with the mechanism existing in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (its members are Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Armenia). "The two Il-76 planes, bought by Armenia from Russia according to the CSTO methods, have today landed in Armenia", Sergei Ivanov said.

    The Russian defence minister voiced surprise over the information on the possibility of the joint use by Russia and the United States of the Gabaliski radar in Azerbaijan.

    "However imaginative, I cannot think of it", Sergei Ivanov joked. He recalled that the Gabalinski radar is Russia's military installation working in the interest of the Russian Federation. The agreement on its use has recently been concluded with Azerbaijan.

    Asked by journalists about his approach to the GUUAM association (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova), Sergei Ivanov said that he "just does not have any".

    "It is, to put it mildly, premature to talk of its military-political component", Sergei Ivanov said.

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