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US Secretary of State Rice Urges Turkish Restraint Over Genocide Resolution, Kurdish Rebels


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has appealed to Turkey for restraint, both against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and in reaction to a genocide resolution approved this week by a U.S. congressional panel.

Rice, who is in Russia, told reporters Saturday that it is a difficult time for U.S.-Turkish relations. She said two senior U.S. diplomats are in Ankara for talks to reassure Turkey that the United States values the relationship.

The diplomats, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried and U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Ankara, are expected to discuss Turkish plans for a military attack on Kurdish rebels across the border in Iraq. Washington opposes such plans.

Rice also said she spoke with Turkey's president, prime minister and foreign minister by phone Friday about the U.S. congressional resolution declaring mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

The Bush administration strongly opposes the resolution, saying Ankara could restrict critical supply routes to U.S. troops in Iraq.

Ankara recalled its ambassador in Washington after the resolution passed the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials say the measure will hurt bilateral relations.

Earlier Saturday, Turkish media reported that a government minister has canceled a trip to the United States because of the resolution. State-run Anatolia said Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen will not attend an upcoming U.S.-Turkish investment conference in New York.

Armenians accuse Ottoman Turks of massacring one-and-a-half million Armenians from 1915 to 1923 in systematic deportations and killings to drive them out of eastern Turkey. Turkey denies that genocide took place. It calls the death toll exaggerated and says the Armenians died in civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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