Turkey’s Sezer Calls Clinton About Genocide Bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters)–Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer called President Bill Clinton on Monday to express concern about a resolution pending in the US Congress that would recognize that Turks committed genocide against Armenia’s in 1915–the White House said.

White House National Security Council spokesman P.J. Crowley said Sezer and Clinton spoke by telephone for about 10 minutes.

“He called to express his grave reservations about the Armenian resolution that is currently being considered in the House,” Crowley said of Sezer.

Crowley said Clinton told Sezer he shared Turkey’s concerns about the resolution.

“The administration–as have other administrations in the past–both Republican and Democratic–oppose such resolutions. From our point of view–a matter of historical controversy is best left to historians–not legislators,” Crowley told reporters.

In a speech in Turkey on Sunday–Sezer said it was a shame that US politicians were “allowing anti-Turkey lobbies to damage our relations.”

Turkey–which rejects the charges of genocide–saying killings cost lives on both sides during partisan fighting as the Ottoman Empire collapsed–is considering retaliation if the resolution is passed.

In their phone conversation–Clinton reminded Sezer of their recent discussion in New York on the sidelines of the UN Millennium Summit–Crowley added.

“(Clinton) is very proud of the fact that we have strengthened US-Turkish relations over the past several years and that the strategic partnership that we have with Turkey as a fellow member of NATO is something that benefits both countries,” Crowley said.

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