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Baku Furious Over French Mayor's Nagorno-Karabakh Visit

Azerbaijan is irate over a French mayor's visit to the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Foreign Ministry in Baku said the October 4-6 visit by the mayor of the French town of Bourg-les-Valence, Marlene Mourier, was a "provocation" ahead of a meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Paris later this month.

Ministry's spokesman Hikmat Hajiyev said the visit, and the signing of a Friendship Declaration between Bourg-les-Valence and the town of Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh, ran "contrary to French laws and the mediation activity of France," which co-chairs international efforts to help Azerbaijan and Armenia resolve their conflict over the region.

Armenian-backed separatists seized the mainly Armenian-populated region from Azerbaijan during a war in the early 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.

Skirmishes along a 1994 cease-fire line claim lives every year.

Based on reporting by and Interfax