The leaders of arch-foes Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed in a Brussels meeting to "advance discussions" on a peace treaty over Karabakh which was liberated by Baku from Yerevan during a war in 2020, the European Council's president said.
The two leaders had a "frank and productive" EU-mediated discussion in Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel said on Sunday.
"The leaders agreed to advance discussions on the future peace treaty governing inter-state relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan," Michel said in a statement.
The process will begin in "the coming weeks", he said, adding that he had stressed to the two leaders that "it was necessary that the rights and security of the ethnic Armenian population in Karabakh be addressed".
There will also be a "meeting of the Border Commissions" in the coming days, which will address issues of border delimitation and "how best to ensure a stable situation".
The leaders also agreed that transport links needed to be unblocked.
Nikol Pashinyan –– currently facing pressure to resign –– spoke about "preparations for the negotiation process on normalisation of relations between the two countries, humanitarian issues, as well as the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict", said a statement from his office.
Ilham Aliyev's office said the president "expressed his hope that the process of drafting the peace agreement between the two countries would be accelerated".
Another EU-arranged meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan is set for July or August, Michel said.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and around 300 settlements and villages that had been occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
In January 2021, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region. It also included the establishment of a trilateral working group on Karabakh.
The pact was seen in Armenia as a national humiliation and sparked weeks of anti-government protests, leading Pashinyan to call snap parliamentary polls which his party, Civil Contract, won last September.