4 Mar 2010

US committee to vote on Armenian 'genocide' measure

A US Congressional committee is debating a resolution to label as genocide the killing of Armenians by Turkish forces during World War I.

The non-binding resolution is fiercely opposed by Turkey, a key US ally.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advised the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs to hold off the vote, a White House spokesman said. She said the resolution would harm reconciliation talks between Turkey and Armenia, the spokesman added.

In 2007, a similar resolution passed the committee stage, but was shelved before a House vote after pressure from the George W Bush administration.

Turkey has warned of consequences for US-Turkey ties if it is passed. During the campaign President Barack Obama promised to brand the mass killings genocide.


In October last year, Turkey and Armenia signed a historic accord normalising relations between them after a century of hostility. Armenia wants Turkey to recognise the killings as an act of genocide, but successive Turkish governments have refused to do so.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died in 1915, when they were deported en masse from eastern Anatolia by the Ottoman Empire. They were killed by troops or died from starvation and disease. Armenians have campaigned for the killings to be recognised internationally as genocide - and more than 20 countries have done so.

Turkish officials accept that atrocities were committed but argue they were part of the war and that there was no systematic attempt to destroy the Christian Armenian people.

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