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(dpa) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the speaker of the French parliament Jean Louise Debre Thursday to leave the question of a Turkish genocide of Armenians to historians, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Quoting unnamed officials, Anadolu said that in addition to the Armenian genocide issue, Erdogan and Debre discussed Turkey's bid to join the European Union and the Cyprus dispute during talks in Ankara on Thursday.

Erdogan reportedly told Debre that the French parliament should not pass resolutions calling on Turkey to recognise massacres of Armenians during the First World War as genocide, and should instead leave the issue to historians to argue. "If their historians have claims our historians also have claims," Erdogan reportedly told Debre.

Turkey denies that massacres of Armenians during the First World War were actually a genocide, saying that the numbers of dead claimed by Armenian historians were vastly exaggerated, and the Armenians had in fact risen up against what was then the Ottoman Empire and fought alongside Russian forces that had invaded what is now eastern Turkey.

French-Turkish relations are frequently strained as a result of resolutions in the French national assembly that seek to condemn an event that Turkey denies ever took place.
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