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Turkey Objects In Part To Obama's Armenia Statement

Turkish President Abdullah Gul at an energy summit in Sofia on April 24
SOFIA (Reuters) -- Turkey's President Abdullah Gul has said he disagrees with parts of U.S. President Barack Obama's statement the previous day on the mass killings of Armenians in 1915, adding hundreds of thousands of Turks and Muslims also died.

Obama avoided using the word "genocide" when describing the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915, and welcomed efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize relations.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks but denies that up to 1.5 million died and that it amounted to genocide.

In Turkey's first official reaction to the statement, Gul said: "There are points on which I disagree. Hundreds of thousands of Turks and Muslims also died in 1915. Everyone's pain must be shared," according to state-run news agency Anatolian.

As a presidential candidate Obama, who took office in January, described the killings of Armenians as genocide but on April 24 he referred to them as "atrocities."

Armenian American groups criticized Obama for not keeping a campaign pledge to stick to the genocide characterization.