Armenia rolled out the red carpet for U.S. reality TV star Kim Kardashian as she visited her ancestors' homeland on Thursday, ahead of the 100th anniversary of mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman soldiers.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan received Kardashian and her family in the capital Yerevan and praised their contribution to "international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide,'' his press service said.
Kardashian received a rapturous welcome upon arrival. Hundreds of fans greeted the star, her rapper husband Kanye West, their child North West and Kardashian's sister Khloe Kardashian in the capital Wednesday night.
"Armenia we are here!!!!! We are so grateful to be here &
start this journey of a lifetime! Thank you to everyone who greeted us!'' Kardashian wrote on her Instagram account.
"I can't wait to explore our country and have some yummy food!'' added the star of the reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians''.
The star of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians'' is on her
first visit to the country, which her ancestors left for the United States.
She made no mention of the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman soldiers in World War I but some fans hoped the visit would put the spotlight on anniversary events on April 24.
Armenia, some Western historians and some foreign parliaments call the mass killings genocide.
"On Facebook and other social media, there are maybe tens of millions of people, not Armenians (who follow her),'' said a middle-aged man, who did not give his name, outside Kardashian's hotel in Yerevan.
"If they get informed about genocide, what and who we are, what happened to us, I think it will have a positive impact anyway,'' he said.
Muslim Turkey accepts many Christian Armenians died in partisan fighting beginning in 1915, but it denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that it amounted to genocide.
Speaking at an Armenian Catholic church in Rome before a planned commemoration at the Vatican on Sunday, Pope Francis said it was time for countries to seek reconciliation over what he called the "systematic annihilation'' of 100 years ago.
"We invoke Divine Mercy to help us all, for love of truth and justice, to heal every wound and bring about concrete gestures of reconciliation and peace between nations that still have not been able to reach a reasonable consensus on the interpretation of these sad events,'' the pope said.