US stays quiet on Turkey's genocide

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The Independent US

Congress has avoided a diplomatic clash with an important ally, Turkey, by deciding not to take up a resolution declaring the mass killings of Armenians in the early 20th century a genocide.

Supporters of the resolution made a push for approval in the final days of Congress, despite opposition from the Obama administration. The measure was opposed strongly by Turkey, and the administration feared it would have damaged relations with the Nato ally.

Instead, the House of Representatives ended its two-year term without taking up the matter. It is unlikely to be passed after Republicans take control of the chamber in January because the new House Speaker, John Boehner, opposes it.

Proponents of the resolution had been optimistic of passing it because the outgoing Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, had advocated approval. One Armenian-American group blamed Ms Pelosi for not scheduling a vote, calling it "a failure of Congressional leadership on human rights".

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of the First World War, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, claiming the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

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