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Obama remembers victims of Armenian massacre

President Barack Obama has observed the anniversary of the massacre of Armenians in World War I, pointedly avoiding use of the term "genocide" which has been a contentious issue for Turks and Armenians alike.

Armenians burn a poster with images of Turkish leaders during a rally in Yerevan, Armenia, Friday April 23, 2010, to commemorate the 95th anniversary of killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks

Armenia regularly marks April 24 with anti-Turkish marches

Obama's comments on Saturday were given during the 96th anniversary of the drawn-out massacre in which historians estimate that around 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks beginning in 1915.

"I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed," the president said in a White House statement on Armenian Remembrance Day.

"A full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts is in all our interests," he said appealing to Ankara to be more open about the controversial events.

Ankara reactions

The Turkish government immediately made their displeasure known as the Turkish ambassador to the US, Namik Tan took to Twitter.

"We deeply regret that POTUS [President Obama's] statement on 1915 events reflect an inaccurate, flawed [and] one-sided political characterization of history," Tan wrote on the micro-blogging social media site.

"The US should encourage normalization and dialogue and not hamper it with one-sided [and] politically motivated statements," he added.

Armenian displeasure

Similarly, the Armenian Assembly of America found the American president's words not to their liking on Saturday.

"Words do matter, and today's statement on the eve of Easter and the commemoration of the Armenian genocide was a missed opportunity to help heal open wounds of the past," Armenian Assembly executive director Bryan Ardouny, told news agency AFP, noting that ex-US President Ronald Reagan had used the controversial term genocide.

Earlier on Saturday, crowds estimated at 10,000 marched in the Armenian capital Yerevan to demand Turkey acknowledge the "genocide."

Author: Stuart Tiffen (AP, AFP)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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