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Turkey and US head for showdown over vote on Armenian 'genocide'

Turkey and the US were heading for a diplomatic showdown today over a Congressional vote on whether it should recognise as genocide the 1915 killings of Christian Armenians by Muslim Turks

Turkish politicians have warned of grave consequences if the House of Representatives endorses the bill, which is opposed by the Bush administration.

Yesterday the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul gul  
A stylized octagonal motif in Oriental rugs.

[Persian, rose; see julep.]
, warned of "serious troubles in the two countries' relations" if the measure is approved.

The threats come as the Turkish government seeks parliamentary approval for a cross-border military operation to pursue separatist sep·a·ra·tist  
1. One who secedes or advocates separation, especially from an established church; a sectarian or separationist.

 Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. The move, which is opposed by the US, could open a new front in the most stable part of Iraq.

Turkish MPs in Washington yesterday put their case to members of the House of Representatives' foreign affairs committee See also United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

The Foreign Affairs Committee is one of many Select Committees of the British House of Commons, which scrutinises the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

"I have been trying to warn the lawmakers not to make a historic mistake," said Egemen Bagis, a Turkish MP and close foreign policy adviser to the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Let us not forget that 75% of all supplies to your troops in Iraq go through Turkey."

Many in the US fear for the crucial supply routes through Turkey to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the closure of Incirlik, a strategic air base in Turkey used by the US air force.

A measure of the potential fallout from the vote came in a warning to American citizens in Ankara issued by the US embassy in Ankara.

The statement said: "If, despite the administration's concerted efforts against this resolution, it passes committee and makes its way to the floor of the House for debate and a possible vote, there could be a reaction in the form of demonstrations and other manifestations of anti-Americanism throughout Turkey."

The genocide label is an ultra-sensitive issue in Turkey. It has long claimed that mass killings at the time by both sides were part of the civil upheavals accompanying the collapse of the Ottoman empire Ottoman Empire (ŏt`əmən), vast state founded in the late 13th cent. by Turkish tribes in Anatolia and ruled by the descendants of Osman I until its dissolution in 1918. .

Ankara cut military ties with Paris last year when France voted to make it a crime to deny the killings as genocide.

The bill appears to have a thin majority on the foreign affairs committee. But some supporters fear that Turkish pressure could narrow the margin further. Most Republicans are expected to vote against.

Armenians and most western historians believe the events of 1915 to have been genocide. Estimates of the dead range up to 1.5 million people. Turkey blame the deaths on civil war, disease and famine, with casualties on both sides.

Yesterday Bryan Ardouny, the executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America Armenian Assembly of America, according to its website [1], aims to "strengthen U.S./Armenia and U.S./Nagorno Karabakh relations, promotes Armenia's and Karabakh's democratic development and economic prosperity and seeks universal affirmation of the Armenian Genocide" via , sought to shore up support in letters to the committee's chairman, Democratic representative Tom Lantos Thomas Peter "Tom" Lantos, Ph.D (born February 1 1928, Budapest, Hungary as Lantos Tamás Péter) has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1981, representing California's 12th congressional district, located in the southwest part of San  of California and Republican member, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (also known as Ileana Ros; born July 15 1952) is a Republican United States Representative for Florida's At-large congressional district (map), having held that office since 1989. , of Florida.

"We have a unique opportunity in this Congress, while there are still survivors of the Armenian genocide Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism.  living among us, to irrevocably and unequivocally reaffirm re·af·firm  
tr.v. re·af·firmed, re·af·firm·ing, re·af·firms
To affirm or assert again.

 this fact of history," he wrote.

But Egemen Bagis said the resolution would make it hard for Ankara to continue close cooperation with the US and resist calls from the Turkish public to pursue Kurdish rebels over the border.

"If the Armenian genocide resolution passes, then I think that the possibility of a cross-border operation is very high," said Ihsan Dagi, a professor of international relations international relations, study of the relations among states and other political and economic units in the international system. Particular areas of study within the field of international relations include diplomacy and diplomatic history, international law,  at Middle East Technical University in Ankara.
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Date:Oct 10, 2007
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