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President Joe Biden talks about Armenian mass killing

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Mr Biden’s statement, released as Armenia commemorates the start of the mass killings, said: “We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring.

“And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.”

Mr Biden said the intention was “not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated”.

He had previously welcomed a move by the US House of Representatives, which in 2019 voted overwhelmingly to recognised the mass killings as a genocide.

A Biden official told reporters that the decision to use the term formally as the administration turned its focus to human rights.

In 1981, then-President Ronald Reagan referred to the “Armenian genocide” in a proclamation on the Holocaust, but others have shied away from using the term since.

The administration of Mr Biden’s immediate predecessor Donald Trump said it did not consider the killings a genocide. Mr Trump instead called it “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th Century”.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Mr Biden’s words had “honoured the memory” of those who had died, adding in a tweet: “The US has once again demonstrated its unwavering commitment to protecting human rights and universal values.”

But the Turkish foreign ministry responded angrily, saying in a statement they “reject and denounce in the strongest terms the statement”, saying it had been “made under the pressure of radical Armenian circles and anti-Turkey groups”.

It warned the move would “open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship”.

A further deterioration of relations between the two countries may be the most significant outcome of Mr Biden’s statement, which is largely symbolic and comes with no additional sanctions.

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Written by Kelly Smith

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