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Friday, March 5, 2010

US House votes killing of Armenians as 'genocide'

Thu, 04 Mar 2010 | PressTV

Members of the Turkish Parliament attend a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 4, 2010, on the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

US lawmakers have voted to brand the World War I-era killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as "genocide," ignoring fierce opposition from Turkey.

Despite fierce opposition to the move from Turkey and the White House, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the symbolic resolution by the slimmest of margins, 23 votes to 22, setting the stage for the bill to be put before the full House of Representatives, AFP reported.

The Turkish government, which had warned of serious repercussions for bilateral relations, has responded by recalling its ambassador from the United States for consultations.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is seriously concerned that the motion will harm Turkey-US relations.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had urged the committee not to press ahead with the vote. She also said that the vote might harm reconciliation moves between Armenia and Turkey.

The United States has traditionally condemned the 1915-1918 mass killings of Armenians, but has always refrained from calling the killings as "genocide," wary not to strain relations with Turkey, a NATO member and a key ally in the Middle East.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed in 1915. But it denies that it amounted to genocide.

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The move came despite warnings from both the White House and Turkey that it could harm US-Turkish relations and impede efforts to normalise ties between Ankara and Armenia.

The measure now goes before the full House of Representatives, but it is not clear whether it will actually go to a vote there.

In Armenia, the country's foreign minister says the vote's a boost for human rights.

Congressional Vote Sparks Outrage In Turkey