US Vice President Joe Biden only regrets the interpretation of comments he made last month accusing Turkey of supporting anyone who would fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, and “given the strength of his personal relationship” with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Biden made a personal phone call to clarify his comments, said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest.
In an interview with CNN television on Monday, Biden said he never apologized to Erdoğan after the remarks he made on Oct. 2 during a speech at Harvard University, despite the White House having issued a statement reporting that he had. The discrepancy over whether or not Biden apologized to Erdoğan has put White House officials in the difficult position of having to explain this discrepancy.
When asked on Tuesday whether Biden apologized to Erdoğan for his Harvard remarks, White House spokesperson Earnest said, “Well, that’s what — the statement from his office certainly indicated that.”
During the daily White House briefing, Earnest explained further: “I think the point that the vice president was making is that the message he was trying to deliver specifically to President Erdoğan related to his regret about the way that his comments were interpreted, and he wanted to make sure that he was clarifying exactly what he had said, or at least what he had meant when he spoke to President Erdoğan. And he believed, given the strength of his personal relationship with President Erdoğan, that it required a personal phone call. That was the appropriate thing for him to do. And that’s what he did.”
When asked if the White House is worried that Biden’s apparently contradictory statements could create a diplomatic issue and damage the efforts being made against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Earnest said there was no question that the relationship between the US and Turkey is an important one.
“There have been some steps that the Turks have taken in recent weeks that have been very beneficial to the international coalition against ISIL that the United States is leading,” he said… see more