White House releases statement on 'baseball bat' photo

White House releases statement on 'baseball bat' photo

White House releases statement on baseball bat photo

White House official photo

The White House released a statement today to end the debate on U.S. President Barack Obama's pose holding a baseball bat while speaking on the phone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying the photo was posted online to "highlight the ongoing close relationship" between the two leaders.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the photo had been taken and released to show the closeness of the relationship, as well as the ongoing contact between Obama and Erdoğan regarding the Syrian crisis.

Hayden said they had been keeping a close watch on the debate in Turkey that followed the release of the photo.

"We posted this photo with only one goal, and that is to highlight the close relationship of President Obama with Prime Minister Erdoğan, and to draw attention to their meetings on the Syrian crisis," the statement read. "The president cares highly about the partnership and friendship he has with Prime Minister Erdoğan on a series of important issues [the] U.S. works on with Turkey."

The bat was a gift to the president from the American athlete Hank Aaron, the statement also said.