World

Turkey warns U.S. against genocide vote

Turkey's foreign minister has warned the Obama administration of negative diplomatic consequences if it does not do more to block a U.S. resolution branding the World War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide.

Turkey's foreign minister warned the Obama administration on Friday of negative diplomatic consequences if it does not do more to block a U.S. resolution branding the World War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey would assess what measures it would take should a resolution approved Thursday pass in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"We expect the U.S. administration to, as of now, display more effective efforts. Otherwise the picture ahead will not be a positive one," Davutoglu told reporters.

The U.S. foreign affairs committee panel approved the resolution declaring the Ottoman-era killing of Armenians genocide with a 23-22 vote. The resolution is now set to go before the full House.

Obama has urged the congressional panel not to approve the resolution, saying he did not want to upset promising talks between Turkey and Armenia on improving relations and opening their border.

Turkey also remains a key Muslim ally for the United States in the Middle East, and Washington was expected to press Turkey to support sanctions against Iran to be approved by the UN Security Council, where Turkey holds a seat.

Canada recognized genocide in 2004

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915 at the end of the First World War.

The deaths are widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. But Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide and contends the toll has been inflated and the casualties were victims of civil war and unrest.

Canada recognized the deaths as genocide in 2004, after Parliament voted 153-68 to adopt a Bloc Québécois motion that condemned the act as "a crime against humanity."

Twice since then, Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Canada in response to what it viewed as overt shows of support for the branding of the event as a genocide, most recently in April last year after Canadian officials reportedly attended an event in Ottawa organized to mark the fifth anniversary of parliament recognizing the 1915 killings as genocide.

Canadian officials have repeatedly stated, however, that the country's position on the mass deaths of Armenians more than 90 years ago was not an indictment of modern Turkey.

The U.S. foreign affairs committee approved a similar genocide measure in 2007, but the House chose not to vote on it after facing pressure by top officials in the administration of then President George W. Bush.

With files from The Associated Press

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