ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Joe Biden on Friday agreed “to build greater cooperation” on issues concerning the two NATO allies, during their first call since the US leader’s inauguration, reports AFP.
“Both leaders 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 Turkish presidency said in a readout of the call.There was no mention of an expected announcement that, to the dismay of Turkey, Biden will recognise the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide on Saturday the annual day of remembrance for the victims.
Despite decades of pressure from the US Armenian community, successive US presidents have skirted the genocide controversy due to worries about a rupture with Turkey which has steadfastly rejected the assertion.
Biden promised last year during his presidential campaign to recognise the Armenian genocide.
Erdogan on Thursday told advisors “to defend the truth against those who back the so-called ‘Armenian genocide’ lie,” his office said without referring directly to Biden’s reported plans.
Ankara and Washington have a number of disagreements which have caused further strain on bilateral ties; from Turkey’s purchase of Russian S400 air defence systems to US support for Syrian Kurdish militia, as well as US refusal to extradite Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for orchestrating the 2016 attempted coup against the Turkish government.
Erdogan “noted that addressing the issues of FETO’s presence in the United States and US support for the terrorist organization PKK-PYD in Syria were important to advancing Turkey-U.S. relations,” the presidency said.FETO is an acronym Ankara uses for Fethullah Gulen’s terror group.