US Senate unanimously passes resolution recognising Armenian genocide

Turkey denies killings of Armenians by Ottoman Empire were orchestrated

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 30, 2019, people visit the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan. The US Congress on December 12, 2019, formally recognized the 1915-1917 murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. The Senate's passage of the repeatedly stalled resolution is expected to anger Turkey, which denies there was a genocidal mass murder, insisting the Armenians died as a result of World War I. / AFP / KAREN MINASYAN
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The US Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution recognising as genocide the mass killings of Armenians a century ago, a move that will infuriate Turkey and further strain ties between Ankara and Washington.

The resolution asserts that it is US policy to commemorate as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. Present-day Turkey was the centre of the empire.

The resolution had already passed the House of Representatives by 405 votes to 11 in late October and was pushed in the Senate by Democrat Robert Menendez.

It had been blocked several times by allies of US President Donald Trump, who has sought a closer relationship with Turkey and its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Standing next to Mr Trump at the White House during a visit to Washington in November, Mr Erdogan warned that "some historical developments and allegations are being used in order to dynamite our reciprocal and bilateral relations".

The resolution declares that it is US policy "to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance".

It is also rejects "efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide".

"It is fitting and appropriate that the Senate stands on the right side of history," Mr Menendez said, fighting back tears.

"I am thankful that this resolution has passed at a time in which there are still survivors of the genocide who will be able to see the Senate acknowledges what they went through."

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during the First World War, but contests the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.

Turkey and the US have been at odds over issues including some emerging from the Syrian civil war and Ankara's purchase of a Russian missile defence system that Washington says is not compatible with US and Nato equipment.

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