ANKARA, Turkey (AP)–President Barack Obama may be invited to address Turkey’s Parliament in a rare honor reserved for the country’s closest allies, an official said Friday.
Obama is scheduled to visit Turkey on April 5 during his first visit as president to a Muslim nation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a visit to Turkey last week, said Obama would visit "within the next month or so" to emphasize the work the U.S. and Turkey must do “on behalf of peace, prosperity, and progress.”
Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan told reporters that lawmakers want Obama to give a speech to legislators and to the Turkish people from the rostrum of Parliament.
The invasion of Iraq has strained the long friendship between the U.S. and Turkey–close NATO allies–and Obama’s visit would mark an improvement in ties with Turkey, which is critical to aiding the U.S. pullout from Iraq and turning around the war in Afghanistan.
However, Turkey warns that Obama could jeopardize relations unless he breaks a campaign promise to describe the mass onslaught and destruction of Armenia’s by Ottoman Turks as genocide.
Such a declaration would infuriate Turkey, which could respond by withholding cooperation and complicate U.S. military operations in the region.
In advance of the upcoming 94th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) wrote a letter to President Barack Obama this week commending him on his record of supporting the truth about the Armenian Genocide and urging the President to make a strong statement of recognition on April 24th.