Sat, 04 Dec 2021

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will meet in Brussels next month to discuss border clashes and advancing diplomacy, the European Union said.

'Leaders have agreed to meet in Brussels to discuss the regional situation and ways of overcoming tensions for a prosperous and stable South Caucasus, which the EU supports," a spokesman for Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said in a statement on November 19.

The meeting will take place on December 15 on the sidelines of the EU's Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels.

The announcement came after Michel held phone calls with Aliyev and Pashinian.

"During the phone calls, the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders have also agreed to establish a direct communication line, at the level of respective Ministers of Defense, to serve as an incident prevention mechanism," the EU said.

It would be third face-to-face talks between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan since last year's 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh that killed thousands before the sides agreed to a Russian-brokered cease-fire.

The two previous meetings were in Moscow with the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Renewed border clashes erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia earlier this week, in the worst fighting since last year's Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Azerbaijan said seven of its soldiers had been killed in the November 16 fighting. Armenia said six of its soldiers were killed, 13 were captured, and the fate of another 24 servicemen is unknown.

Both sides blamed each other for starting the latest hostilities, which ended with another Russian-mediated cease-fire.

The violence renewed international calls for the two neighbors to engage in a process of delimitating and demarcating their Soviet-era border.

In last year's war, Baku gained control of parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent territories that had been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

Some 2,000 Russian troops were deployed to monitor the cease-fire.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036

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