House panel approves Armenian genocide measure

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A congressional panel voted on Thursday to label as “genocide” the World War One-era massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces, despite pressure from the Obama administration and Turkey to drop the matter.

The controversial measure passed the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in a closer-than-expected vote of 23-22.

The issue puts President Barack Obama between NATO ally Turkey, which rejects calling the events genocide, and an important U.S. Armenian-American constituency and their backers in Congress ahead of a November congressional election.

Turkey had warned its ties with the United States would be damaged and Ankara’s efforts to normalize relations with Armenia could be harmed if the resolution passed, even though the vote was non-binding.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell, editing by Matt Spetalnick