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Turkey recalls envoy after US vote on Armenian 'genocide'
Friday, March 05, 2010 08:21:54 AM, Agencies
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Ankara: NATO-member Turkey on Thursday recalled its ambassador to the United States for consultations after a vote in a US congressional committee branded the World War One mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces genocide.
The Foreign Affairs Committee narrowly approved the resolution with a 23-22 vote, but it remained questionable whether it will be taken to the floor for a full vote in the House of Representatives.
In a statement, Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also said he was seriously concerned that the non-binding resolution would harm Turkish-US ties and efforts by Muslim Turkey and Christian Armenia to bury a century of hostility.
"We condemn this bill that blames the Turkish nation for a crime it did not commit. Our Washington ambassador was invited to Ankara tonight for consultations," Erdogan said in a statement posted on his office's website.
"We are seriously concerned that this bill approved by the committee, despite all our warnings, will harm Turkey-US ties and efforts to normalize Turkey-Armenia relations." Turkey, a Muslim but secular democracy, plays a vital role for US interests from Iran to Afghanistan to the Middle East.
Turkey and Armenia last year signed an historic deal to bury a century of hostility and open their border. The deal, signed with the endorsement of the United States, European Union and Russia, still has to be ratified by both parliaments in Ankara and Yerevan.
Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks but denies that up to 1.5 million died and that it amounted to genocide - a term employed by many Western historians and some foreign parliaments.
In 2007, Ankara recalled its ambassador after a US panel approved a similar bill. Then-President George W. Bush warned against passage and the measure never came to a vote on the House floor. The ambassador returned to his post after one week.
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