US Citizens in Turkey Urged to Be Careful

WASHINGTON (Reuters–Marmara)–The US State Department–anticipating possible wider protests about a congressional resolution recognizing the 1915 killings of Armenia’s as genocide–on Tuesday warned US citizens in Turkey and other cities with large Turkish expatriate populations to be careful.

The US embassy in Ankara had been the scene of peaceful–daily demonstrations about the resolution for the past two weeks–with several demonstrations also occurring at the US consulate general in Istanbul–the State Department said.

It said the US House of Representatives was expected to vote shortly on the resolution–which could lead to wider protests.

“Depending on the outcome–Turkish groups may stage wider protests. American citizens should be alert to the possibility of demonstrations in cities with large expatriate Turkish populations,” the department said.

“All American citizens should remain vigilant with regard to their personal security. They should exercise caution–avoid large crowds and gatherings–keep a low profile–and vary routes and times of all required travel,” it said in a “worldwide caution” released on Tuesday.

Turkish Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu told US Defense Secretary William Cohen on the sidelines of a defense meeting in Europe last week that his country objected to the resolution–and would take “certain measures” against the United States if the resolution was approved.

The Istanbul-based Marmara daily newspaper reported that Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem dispatched a letter to his US counterpart Secretary of State Madeleine Albright–once again–threatening that relations between US and Turkey would affected if the House were to pass the Genocide resolution.

Cem said that he was aware that Albright and President Clinton were attempting to derail the resolution–but wondered whether they could do more.

The Turkish foreign minister added that in the event the resolution passed the House–the threat of worsening relations could have long-term adverse effects on both countries–including Turkey’s role as a US ally in current crisis n the world–among them the volatile situation in the Middle East.

Marmara also reported that during a recent reception hosted by the newly-appointed US Ambassador to Turkey Robert Pearson–defense minister Cakmakoglu spoke to reporters–saying that he and Pearson inevitable had discussed the Genocide bill.

"We utilize every opportunity to point out to our American friends that the passage of this resolution will have an adverse effect on our relations. These negative effects will also be felt within the military realm," said Cakmakoglu.

The defense minister said that it was incomprehensible that the US would accuse such a great strategic important ally of genocide.

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