Obama urges Turkey and Armenia to improve ties | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.04.2009
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Obama urges Turkey and Armenia to improve ties

On a visit to Turkey, US President Barack Obama worked to mend fences with an important NATO ally. Praising Ankara's contributions to global stability, Obama also sought to ease Armenia and Turkey toward reconciliation.

President Obama and his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, standing next to each other at a joint news conference in Ankara

Obama and his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul

US President Barack Obama has urged Turkey and Armenia to seek reconciliation, saying he would not interfere in their dispute over whether the massacre of Armenians a century ago was genocide.

Obama said he had not changed his own view that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide, but insisted it was more important to bring the two nations together.

Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic ties with Armenia because of its campaign to have the killings recognized as genocide.

The president, on a two-day visit to Turkey, stressed the importance of the country, which he described as a key ally at the crossroads of East and West.

He thanked Turkey for its work in Afghanistan, saying that the two countries approached the issue from the same perspective.

As a member of NATO, Turkey has a small military presence in Kabul and is also involved in direct aid, such as building roads and medical facilities.

Obama also laid a wreath at the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

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