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Top US senator backs 'genocide' resolution

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 11/20/2009 12:00:00 AM | ÜMİT ENGİNSOY

U.S. Senator Harry Reid will co-sponsor a Senate resolution asking the United States to formally recognize World War I-era killings of Armenians as "genocide."

U.S. Senator Harry Reid has agreed to co-sponsor a Senate resolution calling on the United States to formally recognize World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide.”

The development was welcomed by U.S. Armenian groups.

“The Armenian Assembly of America [or AAA] welcomed news that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, has agreed to cosponsor S. Res. 316, the Armenian genocide resolution,” the AAA said in a written statement late Thursday.

“With his leadership role in the U.S. Senate as majority leader, Sen. Reid’s addition to the resolution greatly strengthens the growing list of cosponsors,” said Hirair Hovnanian, chairman of the AAA board of trustees.

The Senate resolution was introduced in October by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and his Republican colleague John Ensign. In a letter sent to the secretary of state in late October, Reid voiced his “Nevada constituents’ concerns” over a historic reconciliation agreement signed between Turkey and Armenia.

[HH] Ankara-Yerevan deal

The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers signed a set of agreements Oct. 10 under which Ankara and Yerevan would set up normal diplomatic relations and reopen their land border. The deal, if ratified by the parliaments of Turkey and Armenia, would effectively end decades of hostile relations.

But U.S. Armenians are solely focusing on the objective of winning formal U.S. recognition of the Armenian killings as “genocide.”

In addition to the Senate bill, a similar resolution on “genocide recognition” has been pending in the House of Representatives, Congress’ lower chamber, since February.

That resolution now has the support of 148 lawmakers out of the 435 House members, the AAA said separately Thursday.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration staunchly supports the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation deal. Analysts suggest that as long as that deal progresses, genocide-recognition resolutions in the House and the Senate have little chance of being endorsed.

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