Obama silent ahead of vote on Armenian genocide

February 27, 2010 09:32

A congressional panel will vote next week on a resolution that would recognize as genocide the World War I-era killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

US President Barack Obama said as a candidate that he believed the killings were genocide. A congressional resolution to that effect could alienate Turkey, a NATO ally and traditional friend of the United States that is crucial to US foreign policy goals.

Past US administrations have defeated similar resolutions through public cajoling about US national security interests and behind-the-scenes lobbying.

So far, however, the Obama administration has taken no public position on the measure. Aides to senior Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee say there has been no pressure against the resolution from the White House. The administration was informed ahead of time that the committee would be scheduling the vote, according to Lynn Weil, spokeswoman for the committee's chairman, Democratic Rep. Howard Berman.

Ankara has long made clear that the issue could alter dramatically Turkish relations with the United States.

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