Armenian genocide measure passes House panel despite Bush appeal

WASHINGTON (AP) - Defying a White House appeal, a House committee has approved a measure labeling the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide.

President Bush had asked the House to reject the measure, saying it would damage U.S. goals in the Middle East. The genocide measure is strongly opposed by Turkey, a key NATO ally that has supported U.S. efforts in Iraq.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the measure 27-21. It now goes to the full House floor -- unless Democratic leaders reverse course and heed Bush's warnings.

Committee Chairman Tom Lantos warns of possible fallout if the measure passes. The Holocaust survivor had formerly backed the resolution. He now says it could cause U.S. military personnel to pay a heavy price.

At issue is the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Turkey insists that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest -- and that the death toll has been inflated.

Posted by LS

Associated Press contributed to this report.