France Downplays History Dispute With Turkey

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France's Defense Ministry said Thursday there was no immediate impact from Turkey's announced suspension of military ties in a dispute over the mass killing of Armenians in the early 20th century.

Turkey's land forces commander, Gen. Ilker Basbug, announced the cut Wednesday amid a debate over whether 1915 killings of Armenians constitutes genocide. France's lower house of parliament has passed a bill outlawing denials that genocide occurred, angering Turkey.

Defense Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau noted that the suspension came from a military commander, not from Turkey's civilian government, and that French authorities had not received official word from Turkey on delays or cancelations in joint military operations.

France believes that existing cooperation with Turkey will continue. Specifically, Bureau mentioned operations in the Balkans and in Afghanistan.

"There is a relationship of work and cooperation in these operational commitments with Turkey that are extremely important and which, in our eyes, will continue," he said.

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