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Democrats, Republicans Spar Over Turkey Genocide Resolution


Democrats and Republicans are trading criticisms over a resolution calling the mass killings in the early 20th century of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire a genocide. VOA's Dan Robinson reports, while Democratic leaders say they still intend to bring the measure to a vote in the House of Representatives in coming weeks, they acknowledge that reaction in Turkey to a recent House committee vote approving the measure has had an impact on lawmakers.

While Armenia genocide resolutions are pending in both the House and Senate, it is the House version attracting all of the attention after the foreign affairs committee vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to be the target of criticism from the White House, Republicans and others for attempting to move the resolution forward.

Bush administration and military officials assert that Pelosi and other House Democrats have made the U.S. vulnerable to a potential Turkish backlash that could affect U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that are dependent on Turkish support lines.

Republicans kept up the criticism Tuesday repeating assertions that Pelosi acted irresponsibly, and House minority leader John Boehner saying Democrats were wrong to bring up the issue at this time.

"This issue has been around the Congress long before I got here and I got here 17 year ago," he said. "There has been a lot of discussion about this issue, there has been a lot of lobbying about this issue, and there is no question that the Armenian people suffered tragically during that period, but this is something that historians ought to sort out and not members of Congress."

In an off-camera briefing for reporters Tuesday, House majority leader Steny Hoyer reiterated Democratic leader's intention to bring the resolution to a full House vote before the end of the current session in November.

However, he added he would be, in his words, less than candid if he did not note that a number of lawmakers have been revisiting their positions on the resolution.

Asked by one reporter about suggestions from some Republican critics that Democrats are trying to use the Armenia genocide issue to put more pressure on President Bush on Iraq, Hoyer said the allegation has absolutely, totally without any basis in fact.

In meetings with Turkish leaders in Ankara this week, two U.S. officials sought to head off any extreme response to the House committee vote on the genocide resolution that might impact U.S. military support operations.

The officials told Turkish leaders not to take actions that would damage overall bilateral interests or broader interests in the region, adding that the Bush administration would work to prevent the Armenian genocide resolution from being approved by Congress.

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