ISTANBUL (AFP)–The United States will help ease tensions with Turkey if it sticks to its stance of not recognizing the "killings of Armenia’s under the Ottoman Empire as genocide," Anatolia news agency quoted a senior Turkish official as saying.
Turkey expects Washington "to maintain the sound position on the issue it has displayed in the past as a first step…[towards] leaving current disturbances behind so that Turkish-US ties can progress on a healthy basis," the head of the National Security Council–Yigit Alpogan said.
"We believe the American administration will not give the green light to slanders which render all Turks as children of murderers," Alpogan told a gathering of a Turkish-American business group.
Washington has so far refrained from terming the World War I massacres as genocide–despite pressure from pro-Armenian lobbies.
Ankara is concerned that the Armenia’s will this year [on the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide] step up their campaign to have the events acknowledged as genocide by Washington–at a time when Turkish-US relations are markedly strained by differences over Iraq.
In October 2000–a draft congressional resolution acknowledging the killings as genocide was pulled from the House floor following an intervention by then president Bill Clinton–who argued that the United State not damage its ties with Turkey–a key Muslim ally.
Since then–however–those ties have deteriorated.
The Turkish parliament stunned Washington just before the occupation of Iraq in March 2003 when it denied US troops access to Turkish territory for a planned invasion of Iraq from the north.
Relations between the two NATO allies were further strained by US reluctance to take military action against Turkish Kurd rebels in northern Iraq and Ankara’s concern that Iraqi Kurds are getting too much power in post-war Iraq.