Obama Declines to Call Armenian Deaths in World War I a 'Genocide'





President Obama on Monday declined to repeat his claim that the deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War I was a "genocide," stepping back from his campaign pledge to Armenian Americans that the "widely documented fact" would be fully commemorated during his presidency.

During a joint news conference alongside Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Obama said he did not want to "focus on my views" or in any way interfere with delicate negotiations between Turks and Armenians on what the president called "a whole host of issues."

Obama sidestepped the issue -- a key tension point between Turks and Armenians and a rallying cry among Armenian-Americans -- saying he was trying to be as "encouraging as possible."

"I want to be as encouraging as possible around those negotiations, which are moving forward and could bear fruit very quickly, very soon," Obama said. "What I want to do is not focus on my views right now but focus on the views of the Turkish and Armenian people. What I told the (Turkish) president is I want to be as constructive as possible in moving these issues forward quickly. My sense is that they are moving quickly. I don't want to, as the president of the United States, want to preempt any possible arrangements, announcements that might be made in the near future."



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