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THE WORLD

Turkish general warns against genocide bill

October 15, 2007|From the Associated Press

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Turkey's top general warned that ties with the U.S. would be irreversibly damaged if Congress passes a resolution that declares the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide.

Turkey, a major cargo hub for U.S. and coalition military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations last week and said it might curtail its logistical support of the U.S. military.

"If this resolution passed in the committee passes the House as well, our military ties with the U.S. will never be the same again," Gen. Yasar Buyukanit told the newspaper Milliyet.

Turkey suspended military ties with France last year after the French Parliament's lower house adopted a bill that would have made it a crime to deny that the Armenian killings constituted a genocide.

President Bush has said the resolution is "not the right response to these historic mass killings," but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said the measure's timing was important "because many of the survivors are very old."

In an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Pelosi noted that the resolution would make the U.S. the 24th country to acknowledge the genocide.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called the measure "irresponsible."

"What happened 90 years ago ought to be a subject for historians to sort out, not politicians here in Washington," he told "Fox News Sunday."

Historical evidence and research support the use of the term genocide to describe the mass killings and deportations of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

Turkey has argued that the deaths were part of the chaos of the war and the ethnic fracturing of the Ottoman Empire.

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