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French President Wants Turkey to Acknowledge Mass Killings of Armenians as Genocide

French President Jacques Chirac says he wants Turkey to acknowledge that the mass killings of Armenians during the first world war was genocide.

Mr. Chirac made the comments Saturday at a news conference in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. This is the first time that the French prime minister has used the word "genocide" to describe the killings. He said Turkey should acknowledge and recognize its past before it is allowed to enter the European Union.

Armenians claim that as many as 1.5 million of their ancestors were killed at the hands of Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923. Turkey categorically denies that the mass evacuations and killings were genocide. Turkish officials also say the death toll has been inflated.

The European Union started formal membership talks with Turkey in 2005.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.