Turkey says Armenian resolution to harm US ties

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ANKARA, Oct 11 (Reuters) Turkey today warned that relations with its NATO ally the United States would be harmed by a US House committee's approval of a resolution calling the 1915 massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide.

The move comes as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan prepares to ask parliament, which his party controls, to authorise a military incursion into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish Turkish rebels using the region as a base.

''The committee's approval of this resolution was an irresponsible move, which at a greatly sensitive time will make relations with a friend and ally, and a strategic partnership nurtured over generations, more difficult,'' the government said in a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

''Our government regrets and condemns this decision. It is unacceptable that the Turkish nation has been been accused of something that never happened in history,'' the government said.

Turkey, which has NATO's second biggest army and plays a key role in a volatile region, has warned of damage to bilateral ties and military cooperation if Congress passes the measure.

The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee approved the resolution on Wednesday and it now goes to the House floor, where Democratic leaders say there will be a vote by mid-November.

Turkey said it would do all it could to stop the resolution being approved by the assembly.

Ankara rejects the Armenian position, backed by many Western historians and some foreign parliaments, that up to 1.5 million Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War One.

Turkey says many Muslim Turks died alongside Christian Armenians in inter-ethnic conflict as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

The White House had warned the resolution would harm ties with Turkey, while Turkey had been lobbying actively against it.

The bulk of supplies for troops in Iraq pass through Turkey's Incirlik airbase, and Turkey provides thousands of truck drivers and other workers for US operations in Iraq. Supplies also flow from the base to troops in Afghanistan.

The resolution, along with a companion bill in the Senate, are strictly symbolic and do not require the president's signature.

REUTERS ARB RAI1158

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