Medvedev gets Armenia leader and Turkey to talk

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedvev on Monday orchestrated rare phone talks between the estranged leaders of Armenia and Turkey after the deadly weekend earthquake near the two countries' border.

The Kremlin said Medvedev had visiting Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian join a telephone call he had placed to his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to pay condolences to the hundreds of victims of Sunday's temblor.

The Russian statement said Sarkisian "joined the conversation, relaying his sincere sympathies and support to the Turkish president."

"Abdullah Gul expressed gratitude for Serzh Sarkisian's solidarity," the Kremlin statement added.

Relations between the two neighbours have suffered for years over Turkey's refusal to recognise the World War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide.

Armenians say that up to 1.5 million of their kin fell victim to the Ottoman Empire forces.

Turkey counters that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian forces.

The two countries currently lack a direct land link and Armenia recently halted the ratification process of a 2009 accord opening the two sides' border.

© 2011 AFP

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