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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkey Halts Nabucco Talks Over France's Genocide Bill

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey has suspended talks with Gaz de France over a pipeline project that would bring Caspian natural gas to Europe in reaction to a French bill on the mass killings of Armenians during Ottoman rule, a senior Turkish energy official said Thursday.

Nabucco is a 4.6 billion euro ($6.14 billion) project to transport natural gas from Turkey to Austria, passing through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. The planned pipeline would reduce Europe's dependency on Russian gas.

France angered Ankara last year when its national assembly passed a bill making it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians during the fall of the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide.

"We will suspend partnership by Gaz de France until the French presidential elections. We will decide according to policies to be followed after the elections," a senior energy ministry official said.

Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler declined to comment on the issue of Gaz de France. "We attach great importance to the Nabucco project. We realized the first phase of this project. Turkey is in an important position in meeting Europe's gas need and we are aware of this," Guler said.

Gaz de France had no immediate comment.