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US national security adviser urges Turkey to "improve relations with Armenia"

April 22, 2015, 3:36 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
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WASHINGTON, April 22. /TASS/. US National Security Adviser Susan Rice has discussed fighting Islamic State (IS) extremist group and relations with Armenia with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, spokeswoman for US National Security Council Bernadette Meehan said on Tuesday.

Meehan said Rice and Cavusoglu discussed concrete steps in strengthening US-Turkish cooperation in fighting IS. Rice also encouraged Cavusoglu "to take concrete steps to improve relations with Armenia and to facilitate an open and frank dialogue in Turkey about the atrocities of 1915," the White House said.

On Tuesday, chief of staff Denis McDonough and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes met with Armenian-American leaders to discuss the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. US officials did not use the word "genocide" in their official statements, which was met with discontent from the Armenian community in the US.

Pope Francis' "genocide" comments

On April 12, Turkey recalled its Ambassador to the Vatican Mehmet Paraci for consultations after Pope Francis’ genocide comments. The Turkish authorities are "disappointed" by the comments made by Pope Francis, who used the word "genocide" in describing the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule in World War I. The statement made by the Pope causes a "problem of trust" between Turkey and the Vatican, the authorities said.

Pope Francis’ comments about the genocide of Armenians are unacceptable as they distort history, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists. "The Pope’s statement which is far from historic and legal truths is unacceptable," Cavusoglu said. "Religious positions are not places where unfounded claims are made and hatred is stirred," he added.

Pope Francis’ comments came at a service in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica attended by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

The Pope said humanity had lived through "three massive and unprecedented tragedies" in the last century. "The first, which is widely considered 'the first genocide of the 20th Century', struck your own Armenian people," Pope Francis said, referencing a 2001 declaration by Pope John Paul II and the head of the Armenian church.

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