Biden, Erdogan hold phone call over bilateral ties

US President Joe Biden discussed bilateral relations in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said.

Biden conveyed “his interest in a constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements,” the White House said in a statement on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

The leaders agreed to hold a bilateral meeting on the margins of the NATO Summit in June to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues, the statement added.

The phone call came as multiple reports said Biden on Saturday will officially recognize the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire a century ago as a “genocide”.

Turkey, the Ottoman Empire’s successor state, has claimed the mass killings did not constitute genocide.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a local media earlier this week that Biden’s statements are not legal-binding and would only harm bilateral relations. “If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs,” he said.

The move could further complicate the already strained relations between Washington and Ankara. The two NATO allies have been at odds over Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 air-defence systems and other regional issues, such as the Syria conflict and the dispute in the eastern Mediterranean.