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No U.S. House Vote Set On Turkey-Armenia Issue

Nationalists demonstrate against the United States in Istanbul on March 5.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- There are no plans at this point for the full U.S. House of Representatives to vote on a resolution branding as genocide the World War I-era massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces, a Democratic leadership aide said.

Despite appeals from the Obama administration, the House Foreign Affairs Committee narrowly approved a nonbinding resolution on March 4 labeling the killings as genocide, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador from Washington.

"There are no plans to schedule it at this point," the aide said of the measure that the administration said could hurt ties with a NATO ally that is important for U.S. interests in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.

Advocates of the largely symbolic measure would have to show Democratic leaders they have the votes to pass it before it would be brought to the House floor, another Democratic aide said. Both aides spoke on condition that they not be named.

The issue puts Obama between Turkey, a secular Muslim democracy that looks toward the West, and Armenian-Americans, an important constituency in states like California and New Jersey, ahead of the November congressional elections.

Turkish leaders reacted with fury after the House committee passed the resolution on a 23-22 vote, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of possible damage to relations with the United States.

But Turkey said on today that it would push on with efforts to normalize ties with Armenia despite the vote.