The French parliament has postponed a vote on a controversial bill that would criminalize attempts to deny claims of an Armenian genocide about 90 years ago in what is now Turkey.
Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told lawmakers the government could not accept the bill, saying it would offend the majority of the Turkish people. Lawmakers then put off the issue until later this year.
Turkish officials had warned that adoption of the bill would cause permanent damage to the relations between the two countries. Turkey recalled its ambassador from France earlier this month amid the rising tensions.
A number of countries, including France, have already officially recognized the deaths of about 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. The new Socialist Party-sponsored bill would go further and include a prison sentence of up to five years and a $57,000 fine for those denying that genocide took place.
Turkey acknowledges the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians, but says they died in civil strife and a Russian-backed Armenian uprising against Ottoman rule that killed at least as many Turks.Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.