The future of a U.S. House resolution calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide appeared in doubt on Wednesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said whether it would come to the floor for a vote "remains to be seen."
Support for the resolution has eroded sharply since it was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. Critical Iraq war ally Turkey warned it would damage relations with the United States and President George W. Bush condemned it.
"Whether it will come up or not, what the action will be, remains to be seen," Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters on Wednesday. She previously had vowed it would get a vote of the full chamber sometime this year.
Pelosi said on Wednesday she had always supported the nonbinding, largely symbolic resolution, but she would be working with other advocates to see what they wanted to do now.
Lawmakers from both political parties have been withdrawing their names from the resolution in recent days in the face of criticism from Turkey and Bush. Some key Democrats as well as Republicans oppose it.
Looking to defuse tensions with a key US ally, Bush on Wednesday urged the Congress to drop the resolution. "One thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire," Bush said at a press conference, branding the measure "counterproductive."
"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," in places like Iraq, he said.
Turkey calls the resolution insulting and rejects the Armenian position, backed by many Western historians, that up to 1.5 million Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War One.
The United States is highly dependent on Turkey's Incirlik air base. About 70 percent of the U.S. military air cargo into Iraq transits that base, according to the Defense Department.
Key Democrats in the House of Representatives on Tuesday joined Republicans to warn that the resolution could harm U.S. strategic interests. Democrats, including Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a longtime member of Pelosi's inner circle, urged her not to bring the proposal to the floor and Republicans called the resolution another "irresponsible" foray into foreign policy.