Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman says the U.N. chief considers the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago "atrocity crimes," but he isn't supporting Pope Francis' description of the killings as "the first genocide of the 20th century."

Turkey denies the killings were genocide and accused Francis of spreading hatred.

Stephane Dujarric told reporters Monday that Ban took note of the pope's comments on Sunday. He said the U.N. chief is fully aware of "the sensitivities related to the characterization of what happened" in 1915.

Dujarric said Ban believes the commemoration of the centenary and continuing cooperation with Armenians and Turks "with a view to establishing the facts about what happened should strengthen our collective determination to prevent similar atrocity crimes from ever happening in the future."