President Joe Biden told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday that he intends to recognize the early-20th century massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces as a genocide, according to people familiar with a call between the leaders, Bloomberg reports.
Biden is expected to use the word “genocide” in a statement Saturday recognizing Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, making good on a promise from his presidential campaign. He would be the first U.S. president in 40 years to publicly recognize the 1915 mass killings as a genocide.
The White House did not mention the issue in a statement about Biden’s call with Erdogan, the first of his presidency, saying only that Biden told the Turkish leader that he’s interested in a “constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements.”
They agreed to meet during a NATO summit in Brussels in June, the White House said.
Ronald Reagan was the last U.S. president to call the atrocities committed against the Armenians a “genocide,” in 1981, but he soon backtracked under pressure from Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire.
During last year’s presidential campaign, Biden promised to “recognize the Armenian Genocide and make universal human rights a top priority.”
In 2019, both houses of Congress adopted a resolution recognizing the genocide.