House sponsors of Turkey bill seek delay
House sponsors of Turkey bill seek delay

By Daniel Dombey in Washington

Published: October 26 2007 02:50 | Last updated: October 26 2007 02:50

The principal sponsors of a US congressional bill that has infuriated
Turkey put the legislation on hold on Thursday night until possibly
next year, in the wake of diplomatic tensions that have soared in
recent days.

In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives speaker, the
four main backers behind the proposed House resolution to censure the
Ottoman Empire-era killings of Armenians as genocide said they now
planned to move forward with the legislation "some time later this
year or in 2008".

The letter, by legislators Adam Schiff, Frank Pallone, Brad Sherman,
and Anna Eshoo, said that "we believe that a large majority of our
colleagues want to support a resolution recognising the genocide on
the House floor and that they will do so, providing the timing is more

Ms Pelosi, who had previously backtracked from her own commitment to
hold a vote on the legislation in the full House before the
Thanksgiving holiday, had asked the bill’s sponsors to gauge
congressional support for the measure in the wake of the growing

As of Thursday night, the number of declared supporters for the bill
had declined to 212 of the 435 House members, with 24 congressmen
having withdrawn their support.

Turkey has vehemently complained about the resolution, and the Bush
administration, which has also lobbied against the measure, has voiced
its concerns that Ankara could restrict US use of Turkish resources to
supply its troops in Iraq.

Administration officials also said the furore over the genocide bill
has impeded Washington’s efforts to convince Turkey not to launch a
large scale military incursion into Iraq.

The Turkish parliament has authorised the step as a means of attacking
the Kurdish separatist PKK but US diplomats fear it could lead to a
wider conflict drawing in Kurdish government forces and even Turkey
and Iraq’s neighbour, Iran.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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