During a phone call, the two men would have discussed what would be a first for an American president: to qualify the massacres of 1915 as “genocide”.
United States President Joe Biden told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he was considering recognizing the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I as an act of “genocide,” Bloomberg reported on Friday. and Reuters news agencies, citing people familiar with the call between the leaders.
The two spoke on Friday for the first time since Biden became president in January, a day before Biden’s. expected remarks calling the killings “genocide,” an action that will deepen the already strained ties between the United States and Turkey.
“Regarding the Armenian genocide, you can expect an announcement tomorrow,” US State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters on Friday, while declining to reveal details.
Biden would be the first US president to officially recognize the murders 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917 as genocide.
Turkey acknowledged the deaths of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, but firmly denied that the murders were systematically orchestrated and amounted to genocide.
If Biden continues to recognize the massacres as genocide, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, it will further damage ties between NATO allies.
Turkish presidential spokesman Fahrettin Altun on Tuesday called a designation of genocide “a slander that has no connection with the facts and is fueled only by political calculations.” It is an emotional, irrational and illegitimate accusation.
Meanwhile, Biden and Erdogan agreed during their call to meet in June when the two will be in Brussels for the NATO summit, the White House said on Friday.
The three-month delay between Biden and his first communication with Erdogan is widely seen as a cold shoulder for the Turkish president, who had had close ties to former President Donald Trump.
The White House transcript of Friday’s appeal made no mention of the Armenian issue.
“President Biden met today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressing interest in a constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements,” the White House said in a statement.
He said the two leaders had agreed to meet on the sidelines of the NATO summit in June to have a broader conversation about their two countries’ relations.
“The two leaders agreed on the strategic nature of the bilateral relationship and the importance of working together to build greater cooperation on issues of mutual interest,” the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has increased pressure on Turkey by frequently expressing dissatisfaction with Ankara’s human rights record, and a wedge remains between the two sides on a multitude of issues, including Turkey’s purchase of Russian weapons systems and the differences policy on Syria.