Erdogan Says Passage of Genocide Bill Will Harm Relations with US

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the US Congress would harm bilateral ties if it backs a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the state Anatolian news agency said on Sunday. "We do not expect Congress to make such a decision. But if it surprises us, I am worried this would cast a shadow over our strategic partnership in the future," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as telling American businessmen. He did not say what Turkey might do in such a case. In the past, it has temporarily frozen trade and other ties with countries that backed the genocide claims. Erdogan accused the Armenian Diaspora–especially strong in the United States and France–of exploiting the genocide issue to hurt Turkey and recalled that Armenian extremists gunned down dozens of Turkish diplomats in the past, mostly in the 1980s and early 1990s, to ‘avenge’ the 1915 killings. Erdogan also insisted Turkey’s small Armenian community was safe despite the murder last month of a prominent Turkish Armenian editor Hrant Dink by a Turkish nationalist gunman. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and General Yasar Buyukanit, head of the army General Staff, have both lobbied members of Congress and the Bush administration on the Armenian issue during separate visits to Washington in the past two weeks.

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