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Turkey seeks explanation from Iran over alleged genocide remarks

KARAMAN – Hürriyet Daily News | 8/28/2010 12:00:00 AM | FULYA ÖZERKAN

Alarmed by reports that Iran’s vice president said the events of 1915 constituted a 'genocide,' Turkey is seeking high-level explanation from Tehran.

Alarmed by reports that Iran’s vice president said the events of 1915 constituted a "genocide," Turkey is seeking high-level explanation from Tehran.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu spoke late Friday with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, who told him that Iran's position was in line with Turkey's stance on the issue.

“I asked for an explanation from Mr. Mottaki,” Davutoğlu told journalists in the central Anatolian province of Karaman on Friday.

The mass killings and deportation of Armenians during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire constituted “genocide,” according to Iranian Vice President Hamid Baghaei. “A hundred years ago the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against a certain number of Armenians,” he was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency IRNA. 

Davutoğlu said the Turkish Foreign Ministry immediately contacted both the Iranian Embassy in Ankara and the Turkish Embassy in Tehran.

Turkey’s envoy to Tehran went to the Iranian Foreign Ministry to follow up on the issue. Later in the day, Davutoğlu contacted Mottaki.

Soon after the allegations, the Iranian Embassy in Ankara released a statement saying that the Iranian vice president’s statements were not accurately reflected by some media outlets. The embassy stated that Baghaei commented on the subject only as a problem between Turkey and Armenia and that he did not express his opinions about the issue.

During their telephone conversation, Mottaki told Davutoğlu that the conference attended by the Iranian vice president was about World War II, not about World War I, while repeating that there was no change in Tehran's position regarding the events of 1915, the Turkish foreign minister said.

But it appeared Friday that Davutoğlu was not satisfied with Mottaki’s assurance. He said he told his Iranian counterpart that Turkey was awaiting an explanation from Baghaei himself.

“Mottaki told me that Baghaei will make an explanation,” Davutoğlu said.

The Iranian vice president made the alleged remarks during a conference “Iran, a bridge of success” on Wednesday.

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