President Joe Biden spoke to his Turkish counterpart Friday for the first time since taking office and ahead of his anticipated move to become the first US president to recognize the Ottoman killing of Armenians in 1915 as genocide.
Despite Biden's expected speech on Saturday to commemorate the genocide, the White House made no mention of his intended move.
Biden conveyed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “his interest in a constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements,” according to a White House statement.
Biden will meet Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit in June.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also reportedly phoned their Turkish counterparts to discuss bilateral relations that have dipped to one of their lowest levels in recent years.
Since taking office, Biden has made human rights a pillar of his domestic and foreign policies.
Friday’s call between Biden and Erdogan was their first since the US president was elected in January. Biden has spoken to the leaders of nearly all major capitals since taking office, but in a sign of his intent to recalibrate ties with Turkey, Erdogan was forced to wait.
The US has expressed its willingness for stronger relations with Turkey, but the NATO ally’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system - considered a security threat to NATO members - drew the ire of Europe and Washington.
Additionally, Erdogan has backed the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist organization by most Arab and Gulf nations.
Turkey has intervened in Syria, Libya and Iraq without being formally invited by the governments of these nations and encroached on Greek and Cypriot waters in the Eastern Mediterranean.
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