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European, African Leaders Meeting on Economic Cooperation and Security

AU President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, center, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy (r) and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, address the media at the end of an EU-Africa summit in Brussels, April 3, 2014.

European and African leaders are gathering Wednesday in Ivory Coast for a summit focused on issues that affect both continents, including economic cooperation, job creation, migration, and peace and security.

The two-day European Union-African Union summit in Abidjan is bringing together heads of state from 55 AU member states and 28 in Europe.

"We strive to enhance societal and political resilience on the continent for the benefit of current and future generations," AU Commission Deputy Chairperson Kwesi Quartey said at a ministerial meeting ahead of the summit.

Governments on both continents have in the past few years faced the challenge of migrant flows through North Africa and across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, with debates over resettlement and how to improve safety along the route that leaves thousands of people dead each year.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Tuesday that the summit is not itself a meeting on migration, but that the issue has to be addressed.

"We cannot close our eyes on the common responsibility we have to protect lives, save lives, open also regular channels for migration and mobility, offering economic alternatives to our young people in Africa, but first and foremost to dismantle the criminal networks that are making money out of sometimes slavery," she said.

The EU said the summit will address a commitment to preparing young people for job opportunities by investing in education, science and skills development. There will also be a focus on promoting trade within Africa, as well as peacebuilding and preventing conflict

"I think that today the security challenges we are facing, starting from radicalism and terrorism to trafficking and criminal organizations, are binding us together and there are only common solutions if you want to have effective solutions," Mogherini said.