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Biden talks with Turkish president ahead of expected genocide announcement

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President Joe Biden spoke on Friday with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the White House said, ahead of an expected announcement that Biden will reject Turkish objections and recognize the Armenian genocide, Agence France-Presse reported.

In a readout of the call, the White House did not mention the controversy, saying only that Biden urged a “constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements.”

The two leaders also agreed to meet one-on-one during the NATO summit in Brussels this June.

The administration has not confirmed the genocide recognition plans, but Biden promised during his presidential campaign that he would make the move.

Officials have hinted strongly at the announcement happening on Saturday — the annual day of remembrance for the mass deaths of ethnic Armenians in 1915-1917.

State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said on Friday that “when it comes to the Armenian genocide, you can expect an announcement tomorrow.”

Turkey insists that the killings and expulsions of ethnic Armenians in what was then the Ottoman Empire were not genocide but a result of the wider conflict in World War I.

Turkish pressure has not stopped some major countries, like France and Germany, from declaring the episode to have been genocide, but many states have held back from fully official recognition.

Despite decades of lobbying by the Armenian community, successive US presidents have skirted the controversy out of worry about a rupture with NATO ally Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu warned in an interview that Biden’s move would sour bilateral relations.

“If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs,” he said.

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