Erdogan, Biden agree 'to build greater cooperation': Turkish presidency

Erdogan, Biden agree 'to build greater cooperation': Turkish presidency”

President Joe Biden formally recognized that the systematic killings and deportations of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century were "genocide" - using a term for the atrocities that his White House predecessors have avoided for decades over concerns of alienating Turkey.

'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.

"We reject and denounce in the strongest terms the statement of the president of the USA regarding the events of 1915 made under the pressure of radical Armenian circles and anti-Turkey groups on 24 April", the foreign ministry said in a separate statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier this week that Biden's recognition of the killings as genocide would harm relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Biden promised past year during his presidential campaign to recognise the Armenian genocide.

The statement is a victory for Armenia and its extensive diaspora.

Biden said his statement was "not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated". Ronald Reagan, the former USA president from California, a hub for the Armenian diaspora in the United States, had been the only US president to publicly call the killings genocide.

"Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history", Biden said.

"And we reaffirm with them our commitment to a world free of discrimination and persecution, where everyone can feel safe". The two also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels in June.

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In Armenia on Saturday, people streamed to the hilltop complex in Yerevan, the capital, that memorializes the victims.

Biden had also delayed having a telephone conversation with Erdogan until Friday - seen largely as a cold shoulder to the Turkish president - when he informed him of his decision to recognize the massacres as genocide.

But on a more conciliatory note, Erdogan said Turkey was "ready to develop our relations with Armenia based on good neighbourhood and mutual respect".

United States recognition would be a massive victory for campaigners. In recent years, Turkey has launched military operations against PKK enclaves in northern Iraq and against USA -allied Syrian Kurdish fighters.

A Turkish statement on the call similarly stressed the positive, saying Erdogan and Biden agreed on "the importance of working together".

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan had established a close bond with former U.S. President Donald Trump, but since Biden took over, Washington has grown more vocal about Turkey's human rights track record. "I think Turkey will be afraid now because all countries are going to start recognizing (the genocide)".

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey said its missions in the country would be closed on Monday and Tuesday for visa services due to the possibility of protests.

The US Congress in 2019 voted overwhelmingly to recognise the Armenian genocide but the Trump administration made clear that the official US line had not changed.

In the same genocide (1913-1923), Ottoman authorities exterminated up to a million Greeks and half a million Assyrians in their mad drive to create a "Turkey for the Turks", irrespective of indigenous communities.

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