The meeting, which took place at the NATO headquarters in Belgium, was expected to be contentious. Biden in April became the first US president in decades to recognize the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as a genocide — a move that risked a potential fracture with Turkey but signaled a commitment to global human rights.
Biden told reporters that much of the meeting was one-on-one and said the interactions were “positive and productive.”
“We had detailed discussions about how to proceed on a number of issues. Our two countries have big agendas. Our teams are going to continue our discussions and I’m confident we’ll make real progress with Turkey and the United States,” Biden said during a Monday evening news conference.
The two leaders have met several times before, but Monday was the first time Biden and Erdoğan met as heads of state. As vice president, Biden dealt with Erdoğan frequently and made several trips to Turkey.
Biden spoke by telephone with Erdoğan for the first time as President in April and told the Turkish President he would be recognizing the massacre as a genocide. The months-long delay in calling the Turkish President after Biden took office in January signaled the US President was placing less importance on the US relationship with Turkey moving forward.
During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to recognize the event as a genocide. In 2019, the House and Senate passed a resolution expressing the same sentiment over the the mass killings of Armenians from 1915 to 1923.
The meeting followed Biden’s first in-person NATO summit, which he entered with a vow to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to a military alliance his predecessor viewed with disdain.
Biden focused on Russia and China and the cyber threats emanating from both countries during the summit. A final communiqué issued by the group highlighted the “threat” presented by Russia and the “challenges” posed by China following the meeting on Monday.
The NATO leaders also largely backed Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, according to a senior administration official. The group agreed to provide “transitional funding” to keep the Kabul International Airport open, and Turkey — a NATO member state — committed to keeping troops in the country to safeguard the facility.