WASHINGTON (Reuters)–A U.S. congressional committee agreed to give Turkey several decommissioned U.S. military ships on Tuesday, but the legislator who sponsored the plan denied it was intended to temper Ankara’s anger over U.S. legislation on Armenian genocide.
On a voice vote, the House Foreign Affairs committee approved the package worth $485 million for Turkey, which was infuriated by the same panel’s vote on October 10 to label as genocide the 1915 massacres of Armenia’s by Ottoman Turks.
Rep. Tom Lantos, who sponsored the bill to transfer three naval vessels to Turkey and sell a fourth at a large discount, said it was a routine transaction with "zero" relationship to the Armenian genocide controversy.
One co-sponsor of the Armenian genocide resolution asked why naval vessels were being given to Turkey. Rep. Brad Sherman noted they would be of little use against Kurds in northern Iraq and Iran that have launched attacks on Turkish soldiers across land borders.
"In dealing with the defense concerns on its Iraqi and Iranian border, where will Turkey deploy these naval vessels? The last time ocean-going ships were seen in Eastern Anatolia, it was Noah’s Ark," Sherman, a California Democrat, said.