Congressional passage of a resolution labeling as genocide the mass killings of Armenians by Turks a century ago would hurt US relations with Turkey, "perhaps beyond repair," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
Gates told reporters Thursday that he has encouraged congressional leaders not to pass the resolution. Earlier, he met at the Pentagon with Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. Gates said neither he nor his guest raised the subject.
"Having worked this issue in the last Bush administration, ... I don't think the Turks are bluffing. I think it is that meaningful to them," Gates said. "I think there is a very real risk of perhaps not shutting us down," but of at least restricting US access to Turkish airspace for resupplying US troops in Iraq.