US President Joe Biden on Friday informed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he intends to recognize the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide, sources familiar with the conversation told Reuters.
The much-anticipated first phone call between the two leaders took place more than three months after Biden’s January 20 inauguration.
Neither the White House statement on the phone call nor the account provided by the Turkish presidency made any mention of the issue of the Armenian massacre.
“President Biden spoke today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, conveying his interest in a constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements,” the White House said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
It said the two leaders agreed to meet on the margins of the NATO summit in June to have a wider conversation about their two countries’ relations.
A statement from the Turkish presidency said Biden and Erdogan agreed on “the strategic character of the bilateral relationship and the importance of working together to build greater cooperation on issues of mutual interest.”
The conversation comes a day after it was reported that Biden is set to announce the formal recognition of the murder of between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
The declaration that the massacre was a genocide risks angering Turkey but makes good on a campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide, a term previous presidents always avoided.
In December of 2019, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution that recognizes the mass killings of Armenians as a genocide.
In 2016, Germany recognized the massacre of the Armenians as a genocide, similarly raising the ire of Turkey which recalled its ambassador to Germany.
Earlier that year, Turkey similarly pulled its ambassador to Austria after the European nation recognized the Armenian genocide.
Russia also has recognized the Armenian genocide, angering NATO-member Turkey.
Former US President Barack Obama had chosen not to recognize the genocide, despite an election promise he made during his 2008 presidential campaign to do so.
Source: Elad Benari – Sheva