Senator Lindsey Graham has blocked a resolution that would have formally recognised the mass killing of Armenians as genocide following a meeting with Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan.
The influential Republican senator, one of Donald Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress, intervened after Democratic senator Robert Menendez asked for consent to pass the resolution, as reported by The Independent.
The measure, which was passed by the House last month in an overwhelming 405-11 vote, would have provided “official recognition and remembrance” of what many experts consider genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War.
“The United States foreign policy must reflect an honest accounting of human rights abuses, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide. We cannot turn our backs on the Armenian victims of genocide,” Mr Menendez said on Wednesday.
Mr Erdogan, who earlier attended a meeting with Mr Trump, said during a press conference that Turkey was “hurt deeply” by the House resolution and that it had the potential to cast a “deep shadow over our bilateral relations”.
Following his meeting with Mr Erdogan, Mr Graham objected to passing the resolution in the Senate because senators should not “sugar coat history or try to rewrite it”. Under Senate rules, any senator can ask for consent to pass a resolution, and any senator can block it.