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Ankara awaits Armenian genocide resolution

March 4, 2010 at 3:00 PM

WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- Ankara said it would consider pulling its ambassador from Washington if U.S. lawmakers pass a measure calling the 1915 atrocities against Armenians genocide.

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs is considering a non-binding resolution that would classify the 1915 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire an act of genocide. U.S. Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., the chairman of the committee, is said to favor the measure.

Ankara said Thursday it would recall its U.S. ambassador if the panel passes the measure, Turkey's English-language daily newspaper Hurriyet reports.

The passage, the Turkish government said, could unsettle bilateral cooperation in the region, including key support from Ankara in the U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul phoned U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday to highlight the seriousness of the issue.

The vote comes ahead of the annual White House statement commemorating the 1915 atrocities. Obama in 2009 avoided using the term genocide and Washington has balked on the issue in press statements.

Ankara said Washington should not risk its strategic interests in the region by letting the resolution pass.

Ankara recalled its ambassador to Washington in 2007 when the Foreign Affairs Committee passed a similar measure.

The Armenian diaspora in the United States has urged the U.S. government to formally take a strong stance on the issue.

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