US turkey protest 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Turkey on Thursday asked its ambassador in Washington to return to Turkey for consultations over a US congressional panel's decision to approve a bill labeling the World War I-era killings of Armenians as genocide, an official said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman said ambassador Nabi Sensoy would stay in Turkey a week or 10 days for discussions regarding the vote, which came despite warnings by Turkish officials and US President George W. Bush's administration that the bill could harm US-Turkish relations.
"We are not withdrawing our ambassador. We have asked him to come to Turkey for some consultations," Bilman said. "The ambassador was given instructions to return and will come at his earliest convenience."
Private NTV television said Turkey's naval commander had canceled a planned trip to the United States over the bill.
Earlier, the US ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, was invited to the Foreign Ministry, where Turkish officials conveyed their "unease" over the bill and asked that the US administration do all in its power to stop the bill from passing in the full House, a Foreign Ministry official said. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make press statements.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the bill by a 27-21 vote, threatening to harm relations that are already tense as Turkey considers staging a military offensive into Iraq against Kurdish rebels who have hideouts there. The United States fears such an operation could destabilize one of the few relatively peaceful areas in the country.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said he was unaware of Turkey's decision.
"I think that the Turkish government has telegraphed for a long time, has been very vocal and very public about its concerns about this and has said that they did intend to act in very forceful way if this happens," he said.
"We certainly want to continue to have good relations with the government of Turkey."
"If they wanted to bring back their ambassador for consultations or something else, that is their decision. I think it will certainly not do anything to limit our efforts to continue to reach out to Turkish officials to explain our views."