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Turkey, US Discuss Armenian 'Genocide' Resolution

Turkey is pressing the U.S. to oppose a measure that would label the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago as genocide, ahead of the April anniversary of the killings.

Turkey's foreign ministry says the issue was the main item of discussion in a phone call Sunday between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The ministry released a statement Monday saying Davutoglu told Clinton it is critically important that a resolution which clears a U.S. House of Representatives committee not be brought before the full House.  

The ministry says the measure could have a negative impact on Turkey's peace efforts in the Southern Caucasus and could affect U.S.-Turkish relations.  The statement also says "politicians do not pass judgment on history."

Earlier this month, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution declaring the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians an act of genocide by Ottoman Turkish forces.

The vote outraged Turkey, prompting it to recall its U.S. ambassador.

U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement on April 24, 2009, marking the 94th anniversary of the start of the killings.  He called the incident one of the "great atrocities" of the 20th century but stopped short of using the word "genocide."  Mr. Obama described the Armenian deaths as genocide while campaigning for president but has not done so since taking office.

Clinton has said the administration will work hard to make sure the resolution does not come up for a vote before the full House.  But Turkish officials say the Obama administration is not doing enough to block further action on the issue.

Armenians say about 1.5 million people of Armenian descent were massacred between 1915 and 1923.  Turkey says the Armenian death toll is inflated and that those killed were victims of a civil war that accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

 

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

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