US urges France, Turkey to calm genocide row

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The United States hopes France and Turkey can de-escalate an angry row over a French vote to outlaw denial of the Armenian genocide, a senior US diplomat said Thursday.

"We obviously want to see good relations between France and Turkey, we hope they can resolve differences between them, they're both stalwart NATO allies and partners," said the official, on condition of anonymity.

He was speaking as Turkey reacted with fury to a vote by French lawmakers to outlaw denial of the Armenian genocide, immediately cutting military ties and warning of "irreparable damage" to relations.

In April President Barack Obama marked the 96th anniversary of the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire and called on Ankara to fully acknowledge the killings, while stopping short of calling it a genocide, even though he used that term during his 2008 election campaign.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said simply: "We continue to support normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered home Ankara's ambassador to Paris on Thursday, banned political visits between the two NATO allies and said Turkey will boycott a joint economic committee meeting in Paris in January.

Erdogan accused France's President Nicolas Sarkozy of pandering to domestic voters, hundreds of thousands of whom are of Armenian descent, and warned that these measures were the first in an escalating scale of sanctions.

© 2011 AFP

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