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Top Armenian, Turkish Diplomats Hold Rare Talks at Summit

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan has appealed to Turkey to reopen the border between their countries as an essential first step in healing historical disputes dividing them.

The Armenian minister issued his plea at talks with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on the sidelines of the Black Sea economic summit in Istanbul.

But Oskanyan said he could not detect any change in Turkey's position.

Bilateral ties have been severely strained by Armenia's claim that its people suffered systematic genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I - a contention repeatedly denied by Ankara.

Separately in 1993, Turkey shut its border with Armenia in a show of support for ally Azerbaijan, because of its conflict with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people died in deportations and systematic killings under the Ottoman Empire - the predecessor to modern-day Turkey. Ankara has vehemently denied the accusations and says 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife during World War I.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.