Obama and Gul in Ankara, Turkey

PRESIDENT GUL: Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay. We were going to call on one –

PRESIDENT GUL: One and one, yes. Sorry.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Do you want me to start, or you?

PRESIDENT GUL: You can start, yes.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Christy Parsons, Chicago Tribune — hometown — hometown newspaper.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. As a U.S. senator you stood with the Armenian-American community in calling for Turkey’s acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide and you also supported the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution. You said, as President you would recognize the genocide. And my question for you is, have you changed your view, and did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, my views are on the record and I have not changed views. What I have been very encouraged by is news that under President Gul’s leadership, you are seeing a series of negotiations, a process, in place between Armenia and Turkey to resolve a whole host of longstanding issues, including this one.

I want to be as encouraging as possible around those negotiations which are moving forward and could bear fruit very quickly very soon. And so as a consequence, what I want to do is not focus on my views right now but focus on the views of the Turkish and the Armenian people. If they can move forward and deal with a difficult and tragic history, then I think the entire world should encourage them.

And so what I told the President was I want to be as constructive as possible in moving these issues forward quickly. And my sense is, is that they are moving quickly. I don’t want to, as the President of the United States, preempt any possible arrangements or announcements that might be made in the near future. I just want to say that we are going to be a partner in working through these issues in such a way that the most important parties, the Turks and the Armenians, are finally coming to terms in a constructive way.

Q So if I understand you correctly, your view hasn’t changed, but you’ll put in abeyance the issue of whether to use that word in the future?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What I’d like to do is to encourage President Gul to move forward with what have been some very fruitful negotiations. And I’m not interested in the United States in any way tilting these negotiations one way or another while they are having useful discussions.

Q Thank you.

PRESIDENT GUL: (As translated.) Let me also share my views on this subject. This is an issue under great discussion. But it is not a legal or political issue, it’s a historical issue. What is being discussed is a situation that was experienced in 1915 under the conditions of World War I, when the Ottoman Empire was battling on four fronts. And unfortunately, some citizens of the empire then were provoked by some other countries and there were many internal clashes and many people lost their lives. And we share the sorrow of all those who lost their lives, but we have to remember that the Muslim population also suffered greatly at the same time.

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