Awkward moment Biden gives Turkey’s Erdogan a mistimed fist bump at NATO summit

Awkward moment Biden gives Turkey’s Erdogan a mistimed fist bump at NATO summit and is rewarded with a VERY lingering arm stroke in their first meeting since the US officially recognized the Armenian genocide

President Joe Biden gave Turkish President Recep Erdogan an awkward fist bump on Monday ahead of their private sit down amid tense relations between the two nations.

Erdogan made it clear he will let Biden know how the president’s recent statement on the Armenian genocide ‘disturbed and upset us’ during their one-on-one meeting.

‘An ally country taking such a stance on an issue that has nothing to do with NATO, the issue of Armenians, has disturbed and upset us. It is not possible to go on without reminding (Biden of) this,’ Erdogan said in comments before traveling to the summit.

He said he would also raise the White House recognition of the 1915 massacres of Armenians during the then Ottoman Empire as ‘genocide.’ 

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces in World War One, but denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute genocide. After years of debate in Washington, the White House in April released a statement on the historical event that resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million. 

Biden and Erdogan spoke during the plenary session of the NATO meeting, huddle together as the leaders gathered for the opening session of the summit. The Turkish president rubbed Biden’s arm as they spoke at length in a group of roughly half a dozen people.

‘It was a constructive warm vigorous engagement with the three leaders,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call.  

The president sat down with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia, President Egils Levits of Latvia, and President Gitanas Nauseda of Lithuania and “underscored strong U.S. support” for their security, according to the White House.

‘The four leaders committed to further strengthening our political, military, and economic partnerships, including working together through NATO to address challenges posed by Russia and China,’ the administration said in a statement.

The president also met with the leaders of Poland and Russia to talk about the threat posed by Russia. 

‘Let them know his intent for the summit on Russia on Wednesday,’ a senior administration official said. 

Biden will talk tough on China and Russia as he seeks the support of the transatlantic alliance and rebuild ties frayed under Donald Trump.

‘I want NATO to know America is there,’ Biden told Secretary General Jean Stoltenberg at the start of Monday’s conference.

The president used the meeting to reaffirm America’s commitment, calling NATO ‘essential for America.’  

And he reiterated the threat China and Russia pose to all members of the alliance.

‘There is a growing recognition over the last couple years that we have new challenges. We have Russia, which is acting in a way that is not consistent with what we had hoped, and we have China,’ he said.

Biden was cheerful the first day of the summit, smiling broadly and chatting with various world leaders. There were lots of pats on the back and arm slapping as the heads of the 30 member nations gathered around a large, round table at NATO headquarters.

Before the meeting, the leaders gathered for a ‘family photo,’ standing several feet apart and wearing face masks in compliance with Belgian COVID restrictions. 

Biden had a prime spot in the center of the front row. Stoltenberg stood just over his right shoulder. Turkey’s Erdogan was to his left, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis to his right.

The leaders were asked over the loudspeaker to remove their masks and look at the camera for 15 seconds. Then they were asked to turn back to the video cube to watch a video presentation — a highlight reel of sorts for the NATO alliance that had the organizations objectives (‘combat climate change’, ‘support the rules based international order’) interlaced with still photos and video and a heavy orchestral soundtrack. 

Then the man on the loudspeaker said: ‘Please put your masks back on and proceed to Room One’ so the meeting could begin. The opening remarks from Stoltenberg were broadcast and then the meeting continued privately.

At the leader meeting, Biden fist-bumped Romanian President Klaus and also spoke with British PM Boris Johnson and NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Goeana. 

And Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo recognized Biden when he formally opened the meeting: : ‘His presence emphasizes the renewal of the transatlantic partnership.’ 

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