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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

ISTANBUL — Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan condemned Pope Francis on Tuesday for comments that the 1915 mass killing of Armenians was genocide, warning him not to make such a statement again.

The pope became the first head of the Roman Catholic church to publicly call the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians "genocide" on Sunday, prompting a diplomatic spat with Turkey, which summoned the Vatican's envoy and recalled its own.

Muslim Turkey agrees Christian Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman soldiers that began on April 15, 1915, when Armenians lived in the empire ruled by Istanbul, but denies hundreds of thousands were killed and that this amounted to genocide.

"We will not allow historical incidents to be taken out of their genuine context and be used as a tool to campaign against our country," Erdogan said in a speech to a business group. "I condemn the pope and would like to warn him not to make similar mistakes again."

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— Reuters