(AP, AFP) - A senior U.S. diplomat said Tuesday that the United States supported rapprochement between Turkey and neighboring Armenia, which have no diplomatic ties.
Laura Kennedy, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, said it was "encouraging" to see a recent exchange of letters between leaders of the two countries on how to address the killings of Armenians during World War I, which Armenians say amounted to genocide.
"We think that this is a very promising exchange between (Armenian President Robert) Kocharian and (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan," Kennedy told reporters after talks with Turkish officials.
"We certainly hope that this will be followed up," she added. "We have a strong interest in rapprochement and reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey".
Erdogan recently sent a letter to Kocharian inviting Armenia to set up a committee of historians to jointly research the killings.
Armenian Presidential spokesman Viktor Soghomonian said Tuesday that Armenia was ready to re-establish relations with Ankara, but "without any preconditions." He repeated Armenia's position that the ties should not be contingent on the creation of a joint commission.
Kennedy urged the two sides to reconcile their proposals. "Why not have both?" Kennedy said. "For our part, we very strongly encourage rapprochement between the two governments."
Erdogan reportedly said political relations could be established if the two sides first agreed on forming the committee.
Turkey, which denies a genocide was committed, is scheduled to start membership negotiations with the European Union in October and is under pressure to address the issue.