- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TURKEY SATISFIED

The Turkish ambassador is returning to Washington this week, a month after he was recalled to protest a congressional resolution on the Armenian “genocide,” and the prime minister is planning to attend a White House summit on nuclear security next week.

Both moves are seen as signs of improvement in U.S.-Turkish relations, as the battle on the domestic front over the House resolution falls to Turkish- and Armenian-Americans.

“I will be going to the United States,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara on Friday, as he announced his decision to send Ambassador Namik Tan back to Washington.

Mr. Erdogan recalled the ambassador after the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the “Armenian Genocide Resolution” on a 23-22 vote March 4. The prime minister warned of serious damage to U.S.-Turkish relations if the full House endorsed the nonbinding resolution. He also said he would not allow the ambassador to return until he was satisfied that the measure will not come up for a floor vote in the House.

The resolution recognizes the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War I as genocide and blames the old Ottoman Turkish Empire for trying to wipe out the Armenian people. Turkey argues that the resolution taints the modern Turkish republic with the actions of the Ottoman regime and insists that the killings were the result of civil war, not genocide.

In announcing his decision to send Mr. Tan back to Washington, the prime minister hinted that he might bring up the Armenian resolution in private talks with President Obama during the nuclear security summit on April 12-13.

“The nuclear issue is not the only topic on the agenda,” he said. “There are many other issues to discuss. … We will make use of this opportunity.”

The struggle over the resolution on the domestic front is being waged among organizations like the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations.

Mr. Obama angered Armenian-Americans last year when he avoided using the word and broke a campaign promise to them. Many retaliated by voting for Republican Scott Brown in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race, even though his Democratic opponent had called for U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide. Mr. Obama is now openly opposing the House resolution.

ANCA has started a letter-writing campaign to Mr. Obama, expressing “moral outrage” over his position.

NEW FROM CHINA

The new Chinese ambassador has settled into his office at the ultramodern Chinese Embassy in Northwest Washington, as both his government and the Obama administration promise to improve relations that were strained over the past five months.

Ambassador Zhang Yesui presented his diplomatic credentials to President Obama last week, bringing greetings from Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is coming to Washington next week for the nuclear security summit.

Mr. Zhang said the U.S.-Chinese relationship “serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples, and contributes to peace, stability and development of the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.”

Mr. Obama pledged that the “one-China” policy “will not change” and called for China and the United States to “join hands and commit to creating a prosperous future for our children.”

Mr. Zhang, 56, was China’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2008 until March of this year. He also served as a vice minister of foreign affairs.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu spoke by phone about next week’s nuclear security summit. Diplomatic relations had been strained over China’s objections to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and Mr. Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail [email protected]

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