Armenian Genocide: Lindsey Graham Says White House Asked Him To Block Resolution During Erdogan Visit.

During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to the United States earlier this month, Sen. Lindsey Graham blocked a bill that would have recognized the Turkish-led Armenian genocide during World War I.

In an interview with Axios, Graham, R-S.C., said he blocked the resolution at the request of the White House. An aide asked him to “please object” to the resolution during Erdoğan’s visit. “I said sure,” Graham told Axios. “The only reason I did it is because he [Erdoğan] was still in town…That would’ve been poor timing. I’m trying to salvage the relationship if possible.” Relations between the United States and Turkey have been strained since the latter invaded a portion of northern Syria to battle Kurdish rebels, who have been allied with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State group.

It has been 100 years since the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, but the Turkish government has been reluctant to admit its role in the genocide. In order to maintain good diplomatic relations with Turkey, the U.S. government has generally shied away from acknowledging the genocide as well. The last president who referred to the killings of Armenians as genocide, which killed at least 1 million people, was Ronald Reagan.

Successive presidents have campaigned on recognizing the Armenian genocide but then recanted once they reached office. As a senator, Joe Biden was an advocate of labeling the killings a genocide. But as vice president, Biden adhered to the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing it. Now, the Democratic frontrunner is one again calling on the House and Senate to recognize the atrocity.

In October, the House of Representatives voted 405-11 to recognize the genocide. The Turkish government reacted harshly, summoning the U.S. ambassador to Ankara and issuing a public denunciation. “We urge the U.S. Congress, not to exploit bilateral issues for domestic political consumption and to act in line with the spirit of our alliance and partnership,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

In public remarks, Erdoğan complained the House resolution “deeply offended the Turkish people” and said he hoped the Senate would “get America off this wrong path.” Last week, Sen. David Perdue, R.Ga., denied unanimous consent on the resolution, preventing the Senate from moving forward on it. Perdue argued the resolution “would undermine the administration’s commitment to overcoming real challenges in our bilateral relationship with” Turkey.

H/T International Business Times

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