Azerbaijan and Armenia leaders meet at European summit

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The first meeting of the new European Political Community (EPC) brought together some leaders that would not usually want to be seen together.

None more so than those of Azerbaijan and Armenia after a deadly outbreak of violence between the two countries recently. 

But Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev and Armenia prime minister Nikol Pashinyan sat down for talks alongside Emmanuel Macron and Charles Michel, who heads up the European Council, a body that brings together leaders of EU countries. 

Armenia agreed to “facilitate a civilian EU mission alongside the border with Azerbaijan”, according to a joint statement released early on Friday.

Azerbaijan “agreed to cooperate with this mission as far as it is concerned,” the statement added.

Last month, Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiated a cease-fire to end a flare-up of fighting that killed 155 soldiers from both sides.

The ex-Soviet countries have been locked in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

The inaugural meeting of the EPC brought together 44 countries in the Czech capital Prague on Thursday, including the 27 members of the European Union, as well as countries currently in the various stages of joining the bloc:  Albania, Moldova, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Other participants included: Georgia, Kosovo, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, the UK, Armenia and Azerbaijan.