No plans for House to vote on Armenian genocide resolution, aide says
Updated 5:00 p.m.
by Mary Beth Sheridan
The Obama administration has reached agreement with congressional leaders not to schedule a House vote on a resolution labeling the World War I-era massacre of Armenians as "genocide," a U.S. official said Friday.
The non-binding resolution, which narrowly passed the House Foreign Affairs Commitee a day earlier, prompted a furious reaction from NATO ally Turkey, which recalled its ambassador from Washington.
Turkey is critical to U.S. security interests because of its support for war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also will have a key vote at the United Nations if the Security Council considers sanctions against Iran.
Turkish officials said Friday the resolution could also torpedo an agreement to normalize their country's relations with Armenia, which was mediated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. That accord has not yet been ratified by either side.
Clinton called Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, on the eve of the vote to express concern about its ramifications, officials said.
"We believe congressional leaders understand the severe impact any further action would have on normalization between Turkey and Armenia. We believe that this will not come to the floor," a senior administration official said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.
The issue was awkward for the administration since, in their previous work as senators, President Obama, Vice President Biden and Clinton had all called on President George W. Bush to declare the mass killings as a genocide.
Turkey acknowledges that large numbers of Armenians were killed during and immediately after World War I. But its officials and some historians say the deaths were the result of forced relocations and fighting at the end of the Ottoman Empire, not a campaign of genocide.
Mary Beth Sheridan
March 5, 2010; 2:19 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Capitol Briefing
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