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Pelosi wants genocide recognition

August 12, 2010|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week during a visit to Burbank that she will push for a congressional vote on an Armenian Genocide recognition bill.

Pelosi came to the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church in Burbank on Aug. 4 for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. The event was attended by several members of the Armenian National Committee of America, as well as members of Congress, including Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach). Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was also present, said Ken Hachikian, chairman for the Armenian National Committee.

The event was sponsored by Edvard Akopyan of Glendale and Levon Ayrapetyan, organizers said. About 100 people plunked down between $2,500 a couple, to a VIP payment of $30,000 per person, to be at the event, Hachikian said.

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Pelosi has long been a supporter of the Armenian American community, he added.

"The speaker regularly attends the congressional commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in April of every year," Hachikian said.

A Pelosi staffer said Pelosi did not promise a vote on House Resolution 252, a measure co-sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and George Radanovich (R-Mariposa) to formally recognize as genocide the atrocities committed by Ottoman Turks against 1.5 Armenians between 1915 and 1921.

But according to Hachikian, Pelosi said Congress' failure to formally recognize the tragedy undermines the nation's moral authority in the world.

"She said we should have a vote, and was very forceful about the importance of the U.S. recognizing the genocide," Hachikian said. "I let her know we are looking to her for her leadership on this issue. We feel there are enough votes if the speaker would put the efforts of her office behind this."

Hachikian said Pelosi also discussed ongoing negotiations of Armenian-Turkish protocols and the political situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Armenian National Committee will continue to work on the genocide resolution with several Democratic lawmakers, including Schiff, Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), Howard Berman (D-Los Angeles), Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

The measure has 140 co-sponsors in Congress, according to the committee.

Turkish officials have criticized the measure and warned that its passage would undermine relations between the three nations.

Gatto meets with Armenian church leader

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