updated 3/13/2009 3:35:28 PM ET 2009-03-13T19:35:28

President Barack Obama may be invited to address Turkey's Parliament in a rare honor reserved for the country's closest allies, an official said Friday.

Obama is scheduled to visit Turkey on April 5 during his first visit as president to a Muslim nation.

Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan told reporters that lawmakers want Obama to give a speech to legislators and to the Turkish people from the rostrum of Parliament.

The invasion of Iraq has strained the long friendship between the U.S. and Turkey — close NATO allies — and Obama's visit would mark an improvement in ties with Turkey, which is critical to aiding the U.S. pullout from Iraq and turning around the war in Afghanistan.

However, Obama could jeopardize relations unless he breaks a campaign promise to describe the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as "genocide."

Such a declaration would infuriate Turkey, which could respond by withholding cooperation and complicate U.S. military operations in the region.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.

But Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, contending the toll has been inflated, and the casualties were victims of civil war and unrest.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments