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Football unites Turkish and Armenian leaders

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Football unites Turkish and Armenian leaders


A greater prize than the World Cup was at stake in Yerevan, Armenia as the two nations played a qualifying match. It is the first time they have met.

But it is also the occasion for a first-ever visit by a Turkish head of state. President Abdullah Gul will watch the game beside President Serge Sarkissian, ending decades of diplomatic silence between the two nations. It is thought it could lead to the full diplomatic relations in the near future.

Sarkissian has already been invited to visit Ankara, and the two men have underlined that the political will now exists for Turkey and Armenia to solve their differences.

However the visit was greeted with anti-Turkish protests at the airport, and around a memorial in the capital to Armenian victims of the former Ottoman empire during the first world war.

It is the crisis in neigbouring Georgia that has forced the two countries into a foreign policy rethink and as such they will avoid discussing bilateral issues, concentrating on regional affairs.

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