US Vice President Joe Biden says he never apologized to Turkey

US Vice President Joe Biden says he never apologized to Turkey

WASHINGTON – The Associated Press
US Vice President Joe Biden says he never apologized to Turkey

US Vice President Joe Biden addresses an audience while campaigning for Democrat Seth Moulton. Biden has denied that he has apologized to Turkish President Erdoğan, explaining that his phone call amounted instead to a clarification. AP Photo

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has denied apologizing to Ankara for his statement about Turkey helping the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other militant groups in Syria, contradicting a previous White House statement that claimed the opposite.

“I never apologized to [Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan],” Biden said in an interview with broadcaster CNN on Nov. 3. “I know him well. I’ve dealt with him. I called him and said: ‘Look, what was reported was not accurate to what I said. Here’s what I said.’”

During a speech at Harvard University on Oct. 2, Biden said Turkey and other U.S. allies in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, had supplied or facilitated the development of the ISIL and other groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

The vice president’s comments angered Erdoğan, who said at the time, “Biden has to apologize for his statements,” or will become “history to me.”

On Oct. 4, the White House released a statement saying: “The vice president apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria. The vice president made clear that the United States greatly values the commitments and sacrifices made by our allies and partners from around the world to combat the scourge of ISIL, including Turkey.”

On Oct. 6, the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, said, “What the vice president conveyed was an apology for – as it relates to President Erdoğan – mischaracterizing the president’s views in a private conversation. And that ultimately was the reason for the call.”

The Associated Press reported that Biden’s office would not comment as to whether it stood by its earlier statement that Biden apologized. Instead, the agency reported his office said there had been a “genuine misunderstanding” about Biden’s speech, repeating its earlier explanation that Biden never intended to imply Turkey had helped extremists.

The vice president’s office also said Biden was still looking forward to meeting with Erdoğan this month.
Biden’s comments to CNN come weeks before his scheduled meeting with Erdoğan in the Turkish capital Ankara during the week of Nov. 17.