International News

US Administration Disowns Accusation Against Turks
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 08:53 pm CST

WASHINGTON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The Clinton administration dissociated itself
on Monday from a congressional resolution recognising accusations that the Ottoman Turks carried out genocide against Armenians in 1915.

The resolution, passed by a House of Representatives subcommittee last Thursday, caused a storm in Turkey, which denies the attempted genocide accusation and insists that any killings were part of a widespread partisan war.

Turkey is an important U.S. ally and provides bases for U.S. planes enforcing
a no-fly zone in northern Iraq.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: ``The administration opposes
passage of this resolution and regrets this subcommittee's vote.''

``We believe historians rather than legislators should deal with the issue. We're prepared to facilitate efforts by Turkish and Armenian experts, along with academics from other countries, to explore their common history,'' he added.

The resolution, which faces several legislative hurdles and which has no binding force, called on President Bill Clinton to ``characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide'' and asked the State Department to teach this doctrine to its diplomats.

Boucher declined to endorse the expression ``Armenian genocide,'' using it only between inverted commas, and said the massacre of Armenians in 1915 was already covered in two courses taught to U.S. diplomats in training.

``If this resolution is adopted by the full House of Representatives, it may complicate our efforts to bring peace and stability to the Caucasus and harm our relations with Turkey, our strategic partner in the region,'' he added.

Asked about Turkish press reports that Ankara was thinking of closing the Incirlik air base to U.S. planes, Boucher said: ``I think it's very much in our mutual interest that important bilateral ties withstand this resolution, and that the important efforts that we make along with our other NATO allies are able to continue.''

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