Turkey Threatens to Recall Ambassador if Genocide Bill Passes

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ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkey threatened Thursday to recall its ambassador if a U.S. congressional panel votes to recognize the Armenian Genocide, a government official said on Thursday.

NATO-member Turkey has said its ties with the United States would be damaged and Ankara’s efforts to normalize relations with Armenia could be endangered if the resolution is passed by U.S. lawmakers on Thursday.

“We are open to all options,” said a government official when asked if Turkey would be willing to recall its ambassador to the United States should the bill be passed.

Ankara recalled its ambassador in 2007 for consultations after a U.S. panel approved a similar bill.

“But nobody should forget that the situation is different now than it was in 2007. We are in the process of normalizing ties with Armenia, so the stakes are higher,” he said.

Turkey and Armenia signed a protocol last year to normalize relations but the papers are yet to pass through the parliament of either country.

President Barack Obama and Turkish President Abdullah Gul held a phone conversation on Wednesday to discuss Turkey’s position on the Armenia bill.

Obama visited Turkey last April. His administration sees Turkey as a key ally whose help it needs in solving confrontations from Iran to Afghanistan.

“We are at a stage when U.S.-Turkish ties need maximum cooperation. Everybody should consider the importance of U.S.-Turkish relations for regional and global stability,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference on Thursday.

The non-binding resolution, to be voted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, would call on Obama to ensure U.S. policy formally refers to the massacre as “genocide” and to use that term when he delivers his annual message on the issue in April — something Obama avoided doing last year.

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