The Obama administration has opposed a vote of a resolution that would recognize the 1915 mass killing of Armenians as genocide, contradicting a promise President Barack Obama made while campaigning in the Democratic primaries.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee narrowly approved a resolution, with a vote of 23-22, that declares the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
On Wednesday however, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urged the committee's chairman not to vote on the resolution, telling him that further congressional action could impede progress on normalization of relations between the Turkey and Armenia, State department assistant secretary Phillip Crowley said.
Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador to the U.S., the same stance the nation took after a similar resolution was approved by a Congressional panel in 2007.
It has not yet been decided if the resolution will move to a full House vote.
When President Barrack Obama campaigned in the Democratic primaries in 2008, he explicitly promised to recognize the genocide.
In a statement from January 19 of that year, Obama said that as a senator, he said he stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.
I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution,he said about a similar resolution being proposed in Congress at the time.
Obama promised that as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence, he added.
In the same statement, he said an official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy.
Obama was referring to John Evans, the former U.S. ambassador to Armenia during the Bush administration, who was fired when he referred to the killings as genocide.
Avoiding the word genocide
President Obama first disappointed Armenian Americans in a speech on April 24 of 2009, when he did not refer to the killings as genocide, but merely as one of the great atrocities of the 20th century.
In the same month, when speaking to the Turkish parliament, he again avoided the term genocide.
In sharp contrast, Obama used the word liberally on the campaign trail. In the January 19 statement he used the word genocide 11 times.