Genocide bill could hurt relations

Passing a bill recognizing the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide will strain Israel-Turkey ties, Turkey’s foreign minister said.

Ali Babacan made the comments Monday just days after Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gul, warned President Bush in a letter that Turkish logistical support for U.S. troops in Iraq may be cut if the bill is passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

The committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill that has the support of 226 co-sponsors in the House.

Babacan told The Jerusalem Post that he believes American-Jewish and Armenian groups are attempting to defame Turkey with their support of the measure on the World War I killings.

Though Babacan believes Jewish groups in the United States support the legislation, support has been slim. The Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Committee have described the killings as being “tantamount to genocide” in an effort to ease Israel’s strategic concerns over its relationship with Turkey and to protect Turkey’s Jewish community.

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