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Turkey Opposes Genocide Resolution, Minister Says

Washington, May 22 (RFE/RL) -- Turkish Foreign Minister Emre Gonensay says approval of a resolution pending in the U.S. Congress to commemorate the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks in World War One would serve no useful purpose.

Gonensay told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that there is no point in dredging up past events. He contends that modern Armenians want economic cooperation with Turkey and that politicians should leave history to historians.

The Congress is considering a resolution that would honor the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution would also call upon the U.S. Government to encourage its Turkish ally to admit that the Ottoman Empire conspired to wipe out the Armenians under its rule.

Armenians contend the Ottoman Turks planned the mass murder of 1.5 million of their ancestors. Turks do not dispute that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died, but they contend that this was not a secret policy of the Ottomans, but that it was the result of wartime conditions and the weakness of the Ottoman Empire.

The resolution would not have the force of a law but would have an important symbolic meaning as a statement of support for Armenians. The U.S. State Department has said the resolution would harm U.S.-Turkish relations. The U.S. views Turkey as an important influence on the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Turkey is also a U.S. ally in NATO.