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Armenian, Turkish Leaders to Meet in Washington

The president of Armenia and prime minister of Turkey will meet in Washington next week to try to revive a reconciliation process between the two nations.

Armenia said Thursday its president, Serzh Sarkisyan, will hold talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit. Turkish envoy Feridun Sinirlioglu requested the meeting during a visit to Armenia's capital, Yerevan, Wednesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday Ankara hopes its reconciliation process with Armenia will move in the right direction in the coming weeks.

The Turkish and Armenian governments signed agreements last October to establish diplomatic ties and open their border after decades of hostility. But efforts to secure parliamentary approval have stalled.

Turkish-Armenian relations have been strained for a century due a dispute about the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during and after World War One. Armenians insist the massacres were genocide, but Turkey strongly rejects that label.

Turkey's efforts to reconcile with Armenia have worried Turkish ally Azerbaijan, a longtime foe of Yerevan.

Ankara says Turkish envoy Sinirlioglu will visit Azerbaijan Friday to convey a message to its president, Ilham Aliyev, from Prime Minister Erdogan. Turkey has previously reassured Azerbaijan that its ties remain strong, despite Turkey's new diplomatic relations with Armenia.

Azerbaijan fears the reconciliation process will lead Turkey to reduce support for Baku's goal of reclaiming the ethnic Armenian breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnic Armenian separatists declared independence in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988 with support from Yerevan, sparking a six-year insurgency that claimed 35,000 lives and left more than 1 million people homeless.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave. A cease-fire was declared in 1994, but sporadic fighting continues.

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