ANKARA, Turkey, March 5 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama fell short in his effort to persuade lawmakers to back from a measure describing Armenian atrocities as genocide, Ankara said.
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a non-binding resolution Thursday by a vote of 23-22 that classifies 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, backed the measure despite a last-minute plea by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ankara contends the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians during World War I were exaggerated and says the genocide classification is not a matter for U.S. lawmakers to decide.
Obama avoided the issue until just prior to the vote. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Friday the passage of the resolution showed Obama was not forceful enough in his appeal, the official Anadolu news agency in Ankara reports.
The Turkish government on Friday recalled Ambassador Namik Tan in protest of the vote, issuing a statement saying, "We condemn this resolution, which charges Turkish nation with a crime that it did not commit."
The Turkish government warned that passage of the measure could unsettle bilateral cooperation in the region, including key support from Ankara in the U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ankara's relationship with Tehran could be a factor as well.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul phoned Obama Wednesday to highlight the seriousness of the issue.
Armenian advocates in the United States pressed lawmakers to pass the issue.