Hussein White House avoids calling Armenian deaths ‘genocide’

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The White House avoided referring to the mass World War I killings of Armenians as genocide, as a diplomatic row raged ahead of the tragedy’s 100th anniversary.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and one of President Barack Obama’s top foreign policy advisors hosted Armenian American leaders at the White House to discuss the centennial.

McDonough and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes “discussed the significance of this occasion for honoring the 1.5 million lives extinguished during that horrific period,” the National Security Council said in a statement.

Sticking to the White House’s avoidance of the term, the statement said the United States would “use the occasion to urge a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts.”

Armenian leaders who met with the administration officials said they were told Obama would not use the term.