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Turkey recalls ambassador after US resolution on 'Armenian genocide'

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Washington after a US congressional committee passed a resolution that would require President Obama to use the term "Armenian genocide" to refer to the World War I mass killings of Armenians.

By Yigal SchleiferCorrespondent / March 4, 2010

Turkey's Ambassador to Washington Namik Tan, right, along with Turkey's ambassador to Israel Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, left, at a meeting in Turkey on January 4, 2010. Ambassador Tan was recalled from Washington for consultations in Turkey after a US resolution that would require President Obama to refer to World War I mass killings of Armenians as 'Armenian genocide.'

Burhan Ozbilici/AP/File

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Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Washington after the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives today passed a resolution that described the mass murders of Armenians during World War I as the “Armenian genocide.”

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“We condemn this resolution accusing Turkey of a crime that it had not committed,” the Turkish Prime Minister's office said in a written statement. “Our Ambassador to Washington Namik Tan was recalled tonight to Ankara for consultations after the development," the statement said.

Ankara had warned that the bill’s passing could lead to a rupture in relations with Washington and could harm an already endangered reconciliation process between Turkey and Armenia.

“Turkish-US relations are experiencing their most successful period in history," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said Tuesday. "I hope that they will not be damaged by such initiatives.”

Read related story: Why Armenian genocide resolution may hurt US interests.

The non-binding resolution, which passed with a 23 to 22 vote, calls on US policy and President Barack Obama to refer formally refer to the World War I mass killings as a “genocide.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi must now decide whether the bill passed by the committee will be sent to a floor vote in the House.

Armenians contend that up to 1.5 million of their own were systematically killed by the Ottoman Turks during World War I. Turkey has long denied the genocide claim, saying the number of Armenians killed was much lower and that the deaths were the result of violent turbulence that also affected other groups at the time.

When a similar resolution was passed by a congressional committee in 2007, public opinion was set aflame – contributing to Turkey registering as one of the most anti-American countries at the time.

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