US CONGRESSMEN URGE GUL, SARKSYAN TO CONTINUE PEACE EFFORTS

Today's Zaman
April 1 2009
Turkey

A group of US lawmakers have sent letters to the Turkish and Armenian
presidents, voicing support for their efforts to normalize relations
between the two countries.

"It is essential that the building blocks of trust and cooperation
are established between Armenia and Turkey to heal open wounds, mend
broken hearts and create a better future for both nations and peoples,"
they wrote to President Abdullah Gul and his Armenian counterpart,
Serzh Sarksyan.

Speaking to reporters on Monday on behalf of the group of lawmakers,
Robert Wexler, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
and chairman of the Turkish Caucus in the US Congress, said efforts
to improve the cooperation and diplomatic relations between Turkey
and Armenia were in the interest of both countries as well as the
United States.

The all-Democrat group also included Ike Skelton, the chairman of
the House Armed Services Committee, and Reps. John Murtha, who has
close ties with the Pentagon, and Alcee Hastings, co-chairman of the
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"As members of Congress who agree that lasting Armenian-Turkish
rapprochement should be a top priority for the United States,
please know we are ready to assist your nations' efforts to normalize
relations and build a better future for generations of Armenians and
Turks," they wrote.

Another group of lawmakers recently introduced a resolution urging the
US administration to recognize the Armenian claims of genocide at the
hands of the Ottoman Empire. If passed, critics say the resolution
would be a blow both to Turkish-US ties and efforts to normalize
relations between Turkey and Armenia.