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Local Armenian- Americans praise genocide vote by Congress

Posted by Ralph Ranalli October 11, 2007 10:19 AM

WASHINGTON/REGION

A key congressional committee approved a resolution yesterday that brands the World War I-era Ottoman Empire massacres of Armenians as genocide, despite warnings from President Bush that the measure would anger Turkey, a crucial US ally assisting the effort in Iraq.

The move was welcomed as good new by local Armenian-Americans, who have spearhead the move to have the resolution passed and who have been pressuring groups like the Anti-Defamation League to recognize the genocide. There are an estimated 50,000 Armenian-Americans in Massachusetts, Globe staff writer Farah Stockman reports today.

"It's absurd to think that we can have a foreign policy that does not acknowledge the past," said Sharistan Melkonian, a Waltham resident who chairs the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts. She said US foreign policy has up until this point been "held hostage to lies."

In a rare show of urgency, Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates each declared that the resolution the House Committee on Foreign Affairs approved could lead Turkey's leaders to curb vital US military supply routes through their country, leaving American troops without enough equipment to conduct operations in neighboring Iraq.

"We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people," Bush told reporters on the White House lawn hours before the vote. "This resolution is not the right response to these mass killings."

Read more about the showdown over the genocide vote in the online edition of today's Globe.

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