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Turkey still frosty with U.S. over Armenian genocide move

A woman protests against the proposed genocide resolution last week outside the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.
A woman protests against the proposed genocide resolution last week outside the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.
  • Turkey will not send envoy back to U.S. until it receives "clarity" on genocide move
  • Measure: U.S. should recognize 1915 killings of Armenians in Turkey as genocide
  • House committee passed the measure by one vote on Friday
  • Move has strained relations with crucial ally, but is hailed by officials in Armenia

(CNN) -- Turkey will not send its U.S. ambassador back to Washington until it receives "clarity" on a measure that recommends the United States recognize the 1915 killings of ethnic Armenians as genocide, Turkey's prime minister said Tuesday.

"As long as we don't see clarity in the situation about the Armenian bill, we won't send our ambassador (back)," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a lunch with journalists in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The ambassador was recalled last week to protest the House Foreign Affairs Committee's passage of the measure on a 23-22 vote Thursday.

The nearly century-old issue has placed both Congress and the White House in the middle of a political minefield. The Obama administration had urged the committee not to pass the resolution, warning it could damage U.S.-Turkish relations and jeopardize efforts to normalize relations between Turkey and its neighbor, Armenia. The two do not share formal diplomatic relations.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Friday that "the Obama administration strongly opposes the resolution that was passed by only one vote in the House committee, and we'll work very hard to make sure it does not go to the House floor."

Following the vote, Erdogan condemned the measure in a statement on his Web site, saying it "accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed. The people who support this bill have adopted a wrong and unfair attitude, ignoring the differences of opinion of expert historians and historical facts. The bill has been prepared with tangible historical mistakes regarding the 1915 incidents and with a completely subjective attitude."

However, Armenia's foreign minister has expressed appreciation for the vote.

Turkey officially denies a genocide took place in the last days of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, saying that Muslim Turks and Christians massacred each other on the killing fields of World War I.

Historians have extensively documented the Ottoman military's forced death-march of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians into the Syrian desert in 1915. Every April 24, Armenians worldwide observe a remembrance day for those killed. The deaths decimated the Armenian population in what is now eastern Turkey.

The government in the Armenian capital of Yerevan and influential Armenian diaspora groups have been urging countries around the world to formally label the 1915 events as genocide.

CNN's Ivan Watson contributed to this report.