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A House vote on whether to label as genocide the killings of 1.5 million Armenians by what is now Turkey -- a resolution that deeply offended that key U.S. ally -- could be delayed as Democrats hash it out. While top Bush administration officials and powerful Democrats press colleagues to scrap the measure, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday appeared to hedge his pledge to bring it to a full vote before November's holiday recess.

"I said I thought we would bring this up prior to us leaving here," said Hoyer. "I have not changed on that, although I would be less than candid [not] to say that there are a number of people who are revisiting their own positions."

President Bush called on House leaders Wednesday to abandon the measure. "Congress has more important work to do than antagonizing a democratic ally in the Muslim world, especially one that's providing vital support for our military every day."

Bush also said at a Wednesday news conference that "... one thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire," the predecessor of modern Turkey.

By a 27-21 vote last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted the resolution, which formally identifies the killings as genocide. Turkish officials acknowledge the killings of Armenians during World War I but vehemently object to the designation "genocide."

The U.S. and Iraqi governments fear the proposed resolution could harm Washington's influence with Turkish officials who want to launch military raids against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. Washington officials are concerned the Turkish raids would further destabilize the region.


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