Gul Discusses Genocide Bill with Cheney, National Security Advisor

WASHINGTON (Combined Sources)–Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul began his three-day visit to the capital Monday with meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, to whom he conveyed Ankaras concerns about the pending Armenian Genocide resolution. Gul reportedly conveyed Ankaras concerns over the Armenian resolution possibly reaching the floor of the House of Representatives, warning that should the measure be approved, relations between the two allies could be seriously damaged. Meanwhile, US officials are said to reassure the Turkish foreign minister that they will try to quash the Genocide bill. In talks with Gul, US officials also will discuss Turkish worries that the United States is not doing enough to prevent Kurdish rebels from operating in Northern Iraq. The meetings come at a tense moment for relations between the United States and Turkey. President George W. Bush’s administration is alarmed that the suggested congressional resolution could disrupt efforts to repair strains stemming from perceptions in Ankara that regional instability caused by the US-led war in Iraq has harmed Turkish interests. The administration has opposed previous resolutions in Congress. A similar resolution introduced in the House of Representatives in January is thought to stand a much better chance of passing a floor vote. State Department officials say the administration will work with members of Congress to head off the resolution. "A congressional resolution would be a tremendous blow to our bilateral relationship," said US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew J. Bryza. "We are working harder than usual." In meetings with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, scheduled at press time, Gul was expected to press the administration to block the resolution. But Bush will have to persuade the new Democratic-controlled congress, which does not need presidential approval for such a resolution. Members behind the proposed bill have said they expect a push by the administration and lobbyists working for the Turkish government to keep the resolution from a full vote by the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will decide whether to offer the bill for a full vote if, as expected, it is approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has expressed support. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said that the issue of the Armenian Genocide resolution will be most probably discussed during the meeting between Rice and Gul. In response to the question about the possible steps of the US Administration to counter the adoption of the bill, McCormack said, "As for the work on the issue with the Congress, we are doing it every year. This year is not an exception. I expect that the question will be discussed during the meeting of the Secretary of State with the Foreign Ministry of Turkey. Its obvious that the issue is a very sensitive for a number of communities in the United States and abroad." In discussing the Turkish-Armenian relations, Bryza, who is also the US Co-chairman of the OSCE Minks Group charged with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, said that political or diplomatic efforts were not the proper avenue to "resolve"the Genocide issue, adding that "we all are united in the opinion that the events in 1915 are terrible tragic. It is horrible."

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