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31 01 2009 - Turkish, Armenian leaders hold 'useful' talks in Davos
31 January 2009, Saturday-

Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan said he had a "positive signal" Thursday from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a rare talk between the two estranged neighbors. Sarksyan described the talk with Erdoğan as "very useful."

"I've seen a willingness of the prime minister to solve our issues. I think this is a positive signal," he told reporters after the two met at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Sarksyan would not give details about the talks, which took place before Erdoğan walked off the stage after reproaching Israeli President Shimon Peres over the Gaza offensive.

In 1993 Turkey shut its border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with its close ally Azerbaijan, which was at war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Ankara wants Armenia to abandon its campaign for the recognition of the killings as genocide and make progress in its dispute with Baku before formal diplomatic relations can be established.

Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Armenians claim that up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey categorically rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with the Russian troops that were invading Ottoman territory.

A visit by President Abdullah Gül to Yerevan in early September to watch a World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia's national soccer teams, upon an invitation by Sarksyan, broke the ice between the two countries. The countries have also participated in three-way talks with Azerbaijan on normalizing relations. Turkish and Armenian diplomats have held secret talks on a potential normalization of relations since Gül's visit to Yerevan in September.

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