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Turkey hits back as Pope accuses it of genocide

By Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis wrapped up his trip to Armenia on Sunday with an open-air liturgy and a visit to the Orthodox country's closed border with Turkey, amid new tensions with Ankara over his recognition of the 1915 "genocide".

Turkey issued a harsh rebuttal late on Saturday to Francis' declaration that the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago was planned genocide.

Turkish deputy prime minister Nurettin Canikli called the pope's comments "greatly unfortunate" and said they bore the hallmarks of the "mentality of the Crusades".

Turkey rejects the term genocide, saying the 1.5m deaths cited by historians is an inflated figure and that people died on both sides as the Ottoman Empire collapsed during the First World War.

When Francis first used the term last year, Turkey withdrew its ambassador for 10 months and accused the Pontiff of spreading lies.

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